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Falcons’ Terron Ward is looking for a Super Bowl ring to match his brother’s

Broncos’ T.J. Ward got his last year, now it’s little Bro’s time to get one—he’s just got to get past the Pats

For now, Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward still has bragging rights: He’s the only member of his family who owns a Super Bowl ring. But come Sunday night, the list may grow.

Terron Ward, T.J.’s younger brother, is a running back and special-teams player for the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, who face the AFC’s New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. In two seasons, the Wards may collect as many Super Bowl championships. You don’t see that every year.

Although other siblings have earned Super Bowl rings – quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning immediately come to mind – it’s rare to have brothers on different teams even reach professional sports’ most high-profile game in consecutive seasons, let alone win. The Wards want to get it done.

Last season, T.J. Ward, a two-time Pro Bowler, helped the Broncos’ defense stifle Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50 (for one season, the NFL dumped the Roman-numeral thing because of marketing concerns about using a sole “L”). At Houston’s NRG Stadium on Sunday, T.J. Ward will be a die-hard Falcons fan.

Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a defensive play during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a defensive play during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

“It’s just crazy to think about the fact that me and my brother are both in the league, living out our dreams,” T.J. Ward told me on the phone the other day before he arrived in Houston.

“Not only did I get to go play in the Super Bowl last year, let alone win it, but then the next year, he’s in it with his team. Now, he has the opportunity to win it. And I think they’re gonna win it.”

Admittedly, T.J. Ward is biased. However, he’s quick to point out that his analysis has more to do with ball than blood.

During the regular season, the Broncos played both the Patriots and Falcons. In Week 5, Atlanta defeated Denver, 23-16. The Broncos lost to the Patriots in Week 15, 16-3. Having faced both teams while they were at full strength on O, “I just feel like the Falcons’ offense is incredible,” T.J. Ward said. “The things they can do, I don’t think anybody can stop ’em.”

The Falcons led the NFL in total points and finished second in yards. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman form the league’s most dynamic running back tandem. Terron Ward plays behind them and contributes all over on special teams. Just like T.J. Ward, Terron Ward is hyped about their dope back-to-back brother act.

A family photo of Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43) top left, his father Terrell Ward top right, brother Atlanta Falcons running back Terron Ward (33) bottom left and sister Teirra Ward ran track at UCLA in their home in Antioch, CA. February 03, 2016.

A family photo of Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43) top left, his father Terrell Ward top right, brother Atlanta Falcons running back Terron Ward (33) bottom left and sister Teirra Ward ran track at UCLA in their home in Antioch, CA. February 03, 2016.

“Just being here right now, it’s kind of mind-blowing,” Terron Ward said. “I remember being in the stands last year rooting his team on. This year, we have a chance to be celebrating ourselves. I’m just trying to get another ring in our family.”

In the Ward family, Terron has always been close behind T.J.

Along with their first cousin, former Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the Wards were standouts at regional prep power De La Salle High in Concord, California. Terron Ward also followed T.J. Ward to the Pac-12 Conference: He attended Oregon State; T.J. Ward played at Oregon.

Throughout their lives, T.J. Ward, who at 30 is six years older than Terron Ward, has looked out for his younger brother. As well he should.

“The first day he played football,” T.J. Ward recalled, “I put him in pads on the front lawn, and I started hitting him like he was my age. I was just letting him know that you’re going to have to be tough in this game. I showed him what you have to deal with.

“Early on, he saw how hard you have to work. He was behind me and Maurice Jones-Drew. He saw what we did. But he’s grown up now and following his own path. That’s why I’m so proud of him. I’m so proud of the work ethic he has that got him to this point.”

The younger Ward couldn’t have had a better role model. “I look up to my brother,” Terron Ward said. “I was always the young guy playing with the older guys, just trying to find my way. Just trying to find my niche.”

On the Falcons, Terron Ward has carved out a nice role on special teams.

Atlanta Falcons running back Terron Ward (28) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta Falcons running back Terron Ward (28) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Georgia Dome.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

“Having two great backs in Freeman and Coleman in front of me, I had to find my way to help the team win,” he said. “We have a standard here at the Falcons: No matter what role you’re given, you perfect that role to the best of your ability. That’s why we’ve gotten here.”

Having been there for Terron Ward throughout his life, T.J. Ward isn’t about to stop now. On the eve of the Super Bowl, you know he has some advice for his little bro.

“Just relax. That’s what I’ll tell him,” T.J. Ward said. “Just relax and don’t let the moment be bigger than the game. In the end, it’s still football.

“When I played last year, it was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been in a game. I felt no pressure. I was just ready, relaxed and went into it with 100 percent confidence. And it definitely worked out.”

Once again, Terron Ward should follow T.J. Ward’s lead.

Jason Reid is the senior NFL writer at The Undefeated. He enjoys watching sports, especially any games involving his son and daughter.