Lions Players Romeo and Julian Okwara Talk About Being Brothers on the Same NFL Team: 'A Blessing'
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Football teams often refer to themselves as a brotherhood, but in the case of two Detroit Lions players, the word especially rings true.
Romeo and Julian Okwara, brothers who moved to North Carolina after being raised in Nigeria, have been teammates on the Lions since 2020.
After the siblings moved to the U.S. in 2005, the two started playing football and eventually joined the teams at Ardrey Kell High School and the University of Notre Dame — but not at the same time due to their age difference.
While it is rare for anyone to make it to the NFL, 27-year-old Romeo signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2016, then joined the Lions in 2018.
Julian, 25, joined the Lions when they selected him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. So finally, the two were teammates.
"It's unique," Romeo tells PEOPLE. "It's something I couldn't really imagine before it happened. But it's pretty cool, getting to work every day with my brother, and going through this dream of playing in the NFL together."
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Julian agreed it's surprising they reached the NFL since they "never really" talked about football as children growing up outside of the U.S. But, Julian says Romeo and their other brothers motivated him to see how far he could go in the sport once it became part of their lives.
"For me, with Romeo being the older brother, he's the one going through everything first," Julian tells PEOPLE. "I looked at him as a role model, really. So whatever he's done, I've been trying to do it too."
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He continues: "All my older brothers play football too, so I'm the younger brother who's like, 'Oh, I want to do that — I want to do what they're doing.' Once it got to the point where Romeo left for college, and I was getting recruited, I was like, 'Okay, I can do this too.'"
The two brothers say they aren't the only ones happy they get to be on the same team.
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"It's a blessing," Julian says. "Especially games on Thanksgiving, where our mom can come up, and we can have our family in one household and stuff like that. So it's awesome."
Adds Romeo: "The rest of our family's in Charlotte, and mom would usually have to go to his game wherever he was playing in college, and then she'd fly and come watch me the next day. So it's a big blessing in that way."
Now with a home in Detroit, the two hope to continue making memories on the football field together for a long time.
"We have limited, limited control over that, because that's just how the league is," Romeo says. "But if we're able to play on the same team together for the rest of our career, that would be a blessing."