Manny Crisostomo /

Armond Armstead, seen in an NFL pre-draft workout, says medication hurt his pro prospects.

Hometown Report: Football bonds Armstead brothers

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:06 pm

So, really, who would win?

Line up Armond Armstead in a four-point stance inches across from his taller kid brother Arik in the backyard of their Elk Grove family home.

Nail down all the furniture inside the house – now much too small to hold this rumble – in case of seismic tremors, and then blow the whistle. At stake? First dibs on Thanksgiving turkey; or anything edible.

In the tale of the tape, Armond is a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive tackle in the midst of a breakout season in the Canadian Football League. Arik is a 6-8, 295-pound defensive end for the No. 2 Oregon Ducks, who play Cal tonight in Berkeley. Both are Pleasant Grove High School graduates with potential greater than their considerable wing spans.

"Um, who wins that one-on-one?" Guss Armstead, the proud father wondered Friday afternoon amid laughter. "Depends on what the food is. They're motivated by different foods.

"I do know one thing. The boys used to face off in the yard or in the house a lot as kids. But I had to pull them off each other. They were tearing the place apart."

The brothers do not compare each other's game, nor does dad. Each has unique skill sets. Still, there are similarities hard to ignore.

The Armsteads are first-year players on their teams. Armond, who plays for the Toronto Argonauts, was named this week to the East Division All-Star team. He has been in the discussion as the CFL Rookie of the Year for months. He leads the Argos in sacks with six and has 43 solo tackles for a club targeting a Grey Cup championship, the Super Bowl of the CFL.

Armond is a true freshman in the defensive rotation in Eugene. He has 20 tackles for a team gunning for its first national title.

And both entered this season with much to prove.

Armond didn't have a senior season at USC, or anywhere. His college experience soured at the end. The family earlier this year filed a lawsuit against USC for what it deemed medical mistreatment with pain injections that led to a heart attack, damaging his body and NFL prospects. That case is still in the works.

Armond has proven he is fit and able. The NFL remains his goal.

As a sophomore at Pleasant Grove, Arik gave an early verbal commitment to USC. He wanted to play next to his brother. Then he considered Cal, and then decided on Oregon. Arik will likely be booed by Cal fans tonight in a twisted compliment, much as Bears backers heckled Washington safety Shaq Thompson, out of Grant, last week in Berkeley.

Cal fans were hopeful of landing Armstead, much as they had expected to lure Thompson for a bonanza recruiting haul.

Thompson's mother, Patty, texted Guss and his wife, Christa, on Friday to warn of possible cascading boos.

Such is the high-profile football life, but the Armsteads harbor no complaints or regrets.

Guss and Christa have traveled to Canada and throughout the Pacific-12 Conference to keep tabs on their sons, who talk regularly because they are more than brothers. They are the best of friends, a relationship based on appreciation and admiration. And they don't discuss good eats. They engage in trench talk.

They break down each other's game film with honest critiques. One thing about brothers: They don't pull punches. They hurl them, verbally or otherwise.

"Armond has taken a mentorship role with his brother, and Arik loves it," Guss said. "They learn from each other. They never compare each other, but a while back, 'Mondo evaluated some of Arik's tape and told me, 'Dad, he's good, really good. He's going to be special.' "

But he didn't concede that his kid brother has passed him up. Not yet anyway.

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