Casey Hayward and Jalen Ramsey’s teams may have faced off in Week 10 of the 2017 NFL season, but last week during the Pro Bowl, the former foes became teammates.
The cornerbacks helped the AFC author a 24-23 comeback victory over the NFC in the penultimate game of the 2017 season.
“When we’re all out here, we’re all teammates,” Hayward said postgame. “All the guys combined together for (the win).”
The other 364 days a year, guys like Hayward and Ramsey are opponents, with careers rooted in competition. All week at the Pro Bowl, the pair debated which one of them was the top cornerback in the league.
But the irony is, these two go back further than the first Jaguars-Chargers game they played against each other in 2016.
“I’ve been looking up to Casey since I was a little kid in high school,” Ramsey said. “I grew up in Tennessee and Casey went to Vanderbilt. I used to always go to the Vanderbilt practices and I met him probably when I was a freshman in high school.”
Hayward was highly regarded at Vanderbilt and ultimately, his career as a Commodore led him to being taken in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 NFL Draft.
“Everybody used to tell me, ‘Watch this dude. He’s going to be the real deal one day,’” Ramsey continued. “And now look at him.”
While Hayward was a good player for the Packers, he came into his own after he joined the Chargers in free agency in 2016. Two straight Pro Bowl appearances and two consecutive Second Team All-Pro honors later, he’s cemented himself as one of the top players in the game.
But for a guy like Ramsey, sharing the field with Hayward last week in Orlando was a surreal yet exciting experience.
“We’re both in a blessed situation…. It’s crazy! Stories like that, that’s what’s crazy to me the most. Those who I used to really look up to when I was in high school and college and now, I’m here with them in the position we’re in.”
Here’s to looking for more debates between the pair for a long time.