Muamba brothers go head-to-head for Grey Cup

Ian Denomme
55 Yard Line

VANCOUVER — Over nearly a decade of playing organized sports together, Cauchy and Henoc Muamba have never actually gone head-to-head. That will change on Sunday.

Cauchy, a defensive back for the B.C. Lions, and brother Henoc, a linebacker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will face off in the 99th Grey Cup. They're the first brothers to go to battle in the CFL's big game since Doug and Darren Flutie in 1996. That year, Doug Argonauts defeated Darren's Eskimos is a snowy classic.

For the Muamba's, and their parents, it will be strange to see them on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage. From their high school days in Mississauga to university football at St. Francis Xavier, they have always been teammates.

"This is our first game ever [head to head]," Cauchy said on Thursday. "It's really exciting."

The brothers were born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and immigrated to Canada. Like many new Canadians they quickly started playing sports and embraced the three-down game.

"Most of our friends played basketball so we were always around basketball," Cauchy said. "Our high school [football] team needed more players so they asked us to come out. Our basketball coach was also the football coach so they told us we would be good at football and have a bright future and maybe go pro."

Their rise to the top was indeed quick. Older brother Cauchy was drafted in the fifth round (34th overall) in the 2010 Canadian draft and Henoc was taken with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. And the trash talk has never stopped.

"We've been doing that [trash talk] all year long," Cauchy said. "We like to motivate each other, to get the best out of me, the best out of him. That's how we do it."

"If he's in front of me on punt team, then I'm going to have to either block him or go through him," Henoc told the Winnipeg Sun.

As for their parents, they will try to remain neutral and their attire at B.C. Place Stadium on Sunday will prove it.

"We got them a half-and-half jersey. Half Blue Bombers, half Lions. I think that's what they'll be wearing," Cauchy said.

Professional sports have a long history of brother tandems going head-to-head or winning championships together. The NFL world was abuzz on Thursday when brothers Jim and John Harbaugh faced off with their 49ers and Ravens in a Thanksgiving showdown.

But playing for a championship ups the pressure that much more, and it's rarer. When Scott Niedermayer's New Jersey Devils beat younger brother Rob and the Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, it marked the first time since 1946 that brothers battled for the Cup. In '46, Ken Reardon's Montreal Canadiens beat Terry's Boston Bruins.

In baseball, the last World Series sibling rivalry was in 1964. Ken Boyer's St. Louis Cardinals beat Clete's New York Yankees in a classic. Going back even further, the Meusel brothers, Bob (Yankees) and Irish (Giants) met in three consecutive World Series from 1921 to 1923, with the Giants winning twice.

There's no sign of brothers ever going head-to-head in the Super Bowl or in the NBA Finals, but if you know of one we missed, drop us a line.

Using the stats and series we know about, the older brothers have come out on top 75 per cent of the time. So how does Cauchy Muamba like his odds of hoisting the Grey Cup?

"I like it. But it's just the odds. We just got to go and do what we've been doing all year and try to win it. I want it bad, he wants it bad.

"The best man will win, the best team will win."

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