Brothers brawl, but both land on the top

Tiny La. town helps push the Landrys all the way to NFL

August 24, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

Dawan Landry and his little brother, LaRon, have taken different roads to the NFL, have played different positions along the way, and years after leaving their tiny Louisiana hometown, have wound up on teams about an hour apart.

They started in the same place, in the backyard of the family's home in Ama, La., whaling on each other from the earliest age.

"We never really had stitches," recalled Dawan, now 24. "When I was 5 and LaRon was 3, my dad bought us boxing gloves. He didn't really want us to hurt each other. When we got mad, we put on the boxing gloves."

Said LaRon, 22, "Sometimes we put the boxing gloves on, get mad and take them off and use our fists. I guess that's where the toughness and everything came from."

From those brotherly brawls came the genesis of two promising NFL careers: Dawan, in his second season with the Ravens after being drafted in the fifth round last year; LaRon, a rookie with the Washington Redskins who was the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft.

"We were very competitive growing up," Dawan said last week. "We had an older brother and a lot of older cousins, and we had to be tough to play with them."

The two younger Landry brothers fought about everything, from which part each would sing in their favorite music video and, as they got older, who was going to drive the car to school, or get the car to go out at night.

It continued until Dawan left for Georgia Tech.

"When he went off to college, I was like, `Man, I really miss him," LaRon said recently.

There will be something of an unofficial Landry family reunion tomorrow night at FedEx Field in Landover, when the Ravens and Redskins meet in a preseason game. Frank Landry and his wife, Rhonda, will be there to watch their sons, as will several aunts, uncles and cousins.

Because the Landrys play safety for their respective teams, there won't be any reenactments from childhood.

How did two brothers from a town of about 1,000 people and no traffic lights, located 30 minutes west of New Orleans, wind up in the NFL?

"You just work with them and pray and hope they stay focused," said Frank Landry, who attended nearly every one of his sons' games and most of their practices growing up, then split the college games with Rhonda and now attends at least one of their home games every weekend.

Louis Valdin, who took over as football coach at Hahnville High School when Dawan was a junior, said Frank Landry, a retired electrician for Monsanto, was the unofficial "athletic director of Ama," driving his sons and other players to and from games and practices.

The oldest of the brothers, Derrick Bossier, now 28, said their father had a lot to do with his two younger siblings making the NFL.

"He was always our worst critic. If you had a stellar game, he'd always be there to push you a step further ... to the limit," said Bossier, who played defensive end at Vanderbilt and is now an engineering manager for General Motors in Shreveport, La.

The senior Landry credits Ama with his family's good fortune.

"Like it's said, it takes a village to raise a kid. The neighbors would watch the kids, and if one of them got out of order, they would say, `I saw LaRon doing this.' Everybody knew everybody's business," Frank Landry said.

It also didn't hurt to see their older brother go off to college.

"He was a very good role model for Dawan and LaRon," Frank Landry said. "When Dawan went to Georgia Tech, he wanted to go for electrical engineering. He went the easier route and took up business management."

Besides changing majors, Dawan changed positions during the spring of his freshman year in Atlanta, going from quarterback to safety, after Chan Gailey had taken over from George O'Leary and went from more of an option offense to a pro set.

"When they switched me over, at first I was down and out about it," Dawan said. "I talked to my dad and he told me to just go out there and hit people and try it out. As I started working out, I started to like hitting people instead of getting hit."

Landry listened to his father. He gained a reputation as a ferocious hitter at Georgia Tech and saw his stature grow last season when he separated Oakland Raiders receiver Alvis Whitted from his helmet with a hit during the second week of Landry's rookie year.

"I like playing physical, that's part of my game. The hits just come with the territory. I'm not trying just to make a blow-up hit or things like that," Landry said last week. "If you do that, you might overrun a guy or miss a tackle. I just try to make a tackle and when the play comes, I make plays."

Playing alongside fellow Louisianian and three-time Pro Bowl player Ed Reed, Landry led all NFL rookies last season with five interceptions.

Landry is hoping to play even better this season.

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