'Tight as a fist': Steelers' Edmunds brothers tackle NFL life as roommates

PITTSBURGH -- Competition isn't an option for NFL siblings living together.

It's a way of life.

The Pittsburgh Steelers brotherly duo, safety Terrell Edmunds and running back Trey Edmunds, like to cook on occasion. Terrell's go-to dish is crab legs, corn and red potatoes. Trey is known to prepare baked chicken and greens.

Dad sensed the two trying to outshine each other in the kitchen during a few nightly calls.

"I'll hear something like, 'Dad, I made something just like you would,'" said Ferrell Edmunds, himself an NFL tight end from 1988 to 1994. "Then you might hear them go back and forth a bit. That's what makes the boys so competitive."

Trey shrugs at the Edmunds way. "We've all got that edge," he said. "That's just how we were brought up."

Improvement on and off the field is the goal for the Edmunds brothers, who share a Steelers locker room and an apartment while thinking about younger brother Tremaine Edmunds, a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.

In 2018, Tremaine, 21, and Terrell, 22 became the first pair of brothers selected in the first round of the same NFL draft. Trey, 24, blazed the NFL path for them as a running back for the New Orleans Saints in 2017. The Steelers signed Trey to the practice squad in September, and he ended up suiting up for four games.

Asked what went into the decision to room with Trey, Terrell pointed to a tattoo of a fist along his rib cage. All three brothers have a variation of the same brotherhood-themed tattoo, which they secured together at a parlor in Blacksburg, Virginia, while playing at Virginia Tech.

"We’ve always been like a fist -- we’ve stayed together, tight as a fist," Terrell said. "Over the years, it’s gotten stronger. We were going to stay together regardless."

Those fingers don't loosen very often, and that goes for the entire family. Out of 32 combined Steelers and Bills games last season, parents Ferrell and Cookie estimate they attended 29 of them jointly or separately.

Cookie was relieved when Trey and Terrell could live together and share experiences. They often carpool to the Steelers' facility, where they frequently stay late and grab dinner from the cafeteria.

"They can identify the way one may be feeling," Cookie said. "If they need space on their own, they respect that."

Terrell savors the familiarity. The siblings frequent various Pittsburgh steakhouses together, often with other teammates. They'll hit the town for nightlife on occasion, but they typically keep things low-key.

The brothers value Trey's journey as a former four-star recruit slowed by injuries at Virginia Tech. He transferred to Maryland, his father's alma mater, for his final season and went undrafted. Despite a difficult football journey, Trey has impressed in the Steelers' offseason workouts and could crack the rotation.

The family believes Trey's story is a healthy reminder to the other boys to maximize every rep and that "nothing is guaranteed," as Cookie put it.

"It’s always good to have somebody in my corner at all times," Terrell said of his brother. "We try not to get comfortable or let anything get to our heads. At any day it can be over. You can’t go out there and be bigheaded, like, 'Oh, this happened, I’m good.' Because things can happen at any day and real life starts up."

Meanwhile, Trey appreciates his brother's consistency. On the field, Terrell played 967 snaps as a rookie, second most on the defense, behind safety Sean Davis.

What Trey sees from his brother every day is "everything I've been seeing for all these years. He's the same guy, same personality."

That means high-wattage smiles and constant positive vibes. And Trey, Ferrell says, has the ability to lift up any spirit with one conversation.

Most nights turn a little serious, thanks to dad. Ferrell said he usually speaks with his boys every night via phone around 6:30 to 7 to discuss one goal: Get a little bit better every day. The boys listen intently to the man who taught them every football nuance.

"I tell them every day is a new challenge, so you need to get through the ups and downs," Ferrell said. "Being independent, every day is a grind to get better, and the only way to get better is to identify a weakness and improve it. You don’t want to wing it. You want to be prepared.

"Football is a difficult journey, and it’s one you have to enjoy. Enjoy the connections you make, the people you meet. But you have to handle your business on the field and in the film room."

Messages from dad are nice, but the brothers already challenge each other as young professionals aiming for greatness.

More milestones might mean more tattoo tributes.

"At the end of the day, it’s just us," Terrell said. "You have people who might say some negative things, but that’s going to be my brother every day, 'til the end."