Chandler, 22, was a mix, quieter and more purposeful than Jon but a clown and a dancer in the right setting. He never lacked for independence, once marching across the road to try to join his brothers in school, even though he was still in diapers.
Arthur III and Chandler were both serious about football careers from early in high school. "They were blessed with some things, physically, that most kids don't have," Hurd says. "But they also had the drive, the wanting to be great, that came from mom and dad."
Jon had it too but took longer to grow into his gangly body. He got his nickname, "Bones," not from breaking limbs but from looking like a bag of them. His particular physical genius emerged on the wrestling mat.
When Jon was in high school, there was no obvious path to professional glory for a wrestler. He figured he'd grapple in college — he won a national junior college championship — and then become a cop. But his girlfriend (now fiancee) Jessie Moses became pregnant with the couple's first child, and Jon needed to make money. So he left school behind and walked into Bomb Squad, a martial arts gym in Cortland, N.Y.
He quickly emerged as a sort of evolutionary leap in the growing sport — a fighter with the wrestling background common to many UFC stars but with a freakish 84 1/2 -inch reach and uncommon creativity. Within three years of his debut, he won the world title.
Jon says he likes the fact that, unlike Arthur or Chandler in the NFL, he's the singular man in the spotlight when he fights. "There's no one to blame," he says. "I love that."
Establishing a career
The parents are split on which sport they prefer watching. Arthur Sr. finds the UFC crowds harsh and prefers football. Camille worries about the dangers of the NFL; Jon has been so dominant in the UFC that she feels minimal anxiety when he fights.
For now, Jon is the biggest star of the three, a leading figure in his sport with a Nike endorsement deal. But in recent months, he has also lived the downside of fame. In May, he made headlines when he crashed his Bentley into a telephone pole in Binghamton, earning a DWI charge. Then last month, he enraged UFC promoter Dana White by refusing to face challenger Chael Sonnen on short notice, leading to the humiliating and costly cancellation of a pay-per-view event. Though Jon will headline Saturday's pay-per-view against Brazilian Vitor Belfort, the tension with White still simmers.
The family backs him completely. "I just love the way he stands on what he stands on," says Camille. "It's really the way all three of them handle themselves. If they believe in something, they will speak up loud and clear and not let anything waiver them."
The football-playing brothers haven't faced nearly so much scrutiny. Arthur III is off to a mildly disappointing start with the Ravens, trying to work through a hip injury that slowed him after an excellent training camp.
Chandler, meanwhile, has sustained the momentum that saw him rocket up draft boards after his junior season at Syracuse.
In his debut, the 21st overall pick stripped Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker on a sack, setting up a fumble-return touchdown. Coach Bill Belichick downplayed the performance of his rookies, telling the Boston media, "These guys, are you kidding me? They played one game."
But it's safe to say the Patriots, who did not make Chandler available for an interview this week, are happy with their choice.
"I knew whoever was going to get him was going to get a steal," Arthur III says.
He and Chandler have talked and texted through the early part of the season, though not much about football or their impending showdown. On Tuesday night, they played a game of Madden NFL 13 via remote link-up.
"Nothing too serious," Arthur III says. "It'll be funny to see him out there in warm-up."
On the few occasions every year when the brothers get together, the years and the responsibilities of adulthood melt away. They're "goofballs" in Jon's words, speaking their secret shorthand, ready to wrestle over anything from a cookie to a video-game controller.
"They're cubs in a litter," Arthur Jr. says. "Hugging, rubbing on each other's heads."
They never expect to be closer to anyone than they are to each other.
"It's just a lot of things that people can't understand that have brought us tighter together," Arthur III says. "We have a bond that can't be broken."
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