A Double Feature in “Holleywood”

By Terrance Turner

Nick Holley (left) and his brother Nate (right) pose with fellow Whitmer High alum Chris Wormley. (Photo via Twitter.)

Today, Twitter user @ArkenBrandSport posted the full video of the XFL’s Instagram Live with Houston Roughnecks wide receiver Nick Holley. The 44-minute clip can be viewed in full below:

Nick Holley’s brother Nate joined him during yesterday’s Instagram Live. The twin brothers discussed their competitive nature, supportive relationship, and the paths that led each of them to pro football success. Nick overcame five season-ending injuries to become a wide receiver for the Houston Roughnecks this year, catching back-to-back touchdowns in Week 4 and 5. Nate is a professional linebacker for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was named Rookie of the Year in November, after a season with 100 tackles and a sack. But the brothers don’t allow each other to get big-headed.

“After he won Rookie of the Year, I called him and said, ‘You still ain’t s–t.’ Click. Hung up,” Nick recalled on IG Live. He added that Nate had done the same to him after one of Nick’s touchdowns. But underneath the jibes and jousting, the two brothers support each other.

“He’s very deserving of everything he’s gotten,” Nate said when interviewed on Live. “I think he can perform at the highest level, week in and week out, just as I believe that about myself.”

The conversation was reminiscent of their joint interview with the Garage Apartment (posted above). On March 7, I joined H’Dari Jones (from Garage Apartment Media) to interview Nick and Nate Holley on their careers and sibling rivalry. A lightly edited Q&A follows below. 

Was football a part of your early life?

Nick answered first: “Yeah. Competing is always a part of our life, no matter what it is. So we started playing at a young age, one-on-one, and going at each other. He was more of a defensive and I was more of an offensive guy, and obviously I won more games,” Nick laughed. “But we were going at it all the time.” 

“Let’s just put this straight,” Nate deadpans. “That’s the first time I ever let him go first. I always go first, but since this is his show and he’s padded up, I’mma let him go that time. That’s why I let him answer. But yes, always competitive. Started in the backyard. I think we had some Michigan football helmets on — plastic. Plastic helmets, and we had the jersey. We’d throw the ball way up in the air; the other guy would catch it. We had one-on-one football in our own backyard. We kind of had constraints and our own rules, but that’s kind of where it all started.” 

Were you guys athletic in high school and middle school?

Nick: “Well, yeah. We went to high school together, went to college together. Did really well in high school, did pretty well in college — he [Nate] actually finished three years in a row, leading the nation in solo tackles, so he was kind of an animal. And then we ended up going to the Rams together. So we played all the way up through it, together.” 

“Every level,” Nate says. “We’ve been blessed enough to play at every level.” (They were both part of the Rams squad in 2018.)

How did it feel when you had to split off and go in different directions?

“It’s different and it’s weird,” Nick says, “because we’re used to always being on the same team and cheering the other one on. But the love and support never went [away]. I’ve watched every last one of his games when he was out at Calgary in the CFL, and he’s watched every one of mine,” Nick said. “So it’s almost like we’re there in spirit.”

Nate says: “I was just going to say it’s different. Like he said, it’s awesome to be on the same team to where we can come off the sideline, kind of tell each other what we saw and what we were thinking on a certain given play. You know, we’d kind of collaborate after each drive, and [when] each of us kind of needed a little pick-me-up, we always had that there. Now, it’s just learning to be a little different in our warm up routine; we don’t have nobody to play catch with like we do in our warmup routines,” he said. “But we enjoy ourselves. We enjoy this game.” 

“We have fun,” Nick said. 

“Like he said, I haven’t missed a game this year,” Nate said. “Last weekend I was on a Summerville trip, and I watched it in the middle of nowhere at a bar, up on the screen. And I just had the whole bar rooting for him.”

What do you do better than him and vice versa? 

“He don’t have any moves,” Nick smiled. “I got a couple moves. He can tackle.” Nate dissolved into laughter. Speaking of moves, one example was the “Crazy Legs” dance Nick did after the Week 5 touchdown.

“That’s my sister’s move,” Nick admitted, sparking more laughs. “That’s why I did it. But now, I think we are [both] all around pretty good.” 

Nate answers: “If you broke it down, though, I think the only thing he’s got me on, though, is like, financials. Like,  numbers — he’s a good numbers guy. You can have that one,” he told Nick. “But I respect him too much as an athlete, you know, as we’ve grown up… I can’t take that from him you know people ask us, ‘Who’s better? Who’s better at the game?’ For me, I have too much respect for him and how he plays the game to be able to say me. But also, you know, obviously I have enough respect for myself to say him. So that, for me, is the best answer.” 

What was your reaction when you saw his touchdown in Week 4, Nate? 

“Last game, I watched at home by myself with a fire lit. So it was just me. I went crazy. I actually had — it was kind of funny — I had like, a little twin intuition. I’ve got a video of it and everything: I stood up and I said he’s going to score on this play right now. and soon enough, as the ball was snapped and I hit record, he scored. I don’t know what it was — twin intuition, you can call it…”

They say one twin can kind of sense what’s going on with the other… 

“You know, there is some truth to that,” Nate began. Nick added: “We spend so much time together, we know what each other’s thinking. And we kind of have that chemistry to where, if he’s behind me and my eyes are shut, I can throw him a ball, ‘cause I know where he’s at.”

Nick played different positions throughout his career; did Nate do the same?

“Yeah. I mean, I was a basically — safety/linebacker role. Played safety in college, played linebacker the rest of my life. Played linebacker in the CFL, so I’ve had to change positions in that aspect. IN high school, I did play offense and defense, so I’ve changed, kinda there. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of been that hybrid role of safety and linebacker. so for me that’s been the biggest change just having to make that bump, either: ‘OK, now I’m out an open space,’ or ‘OK, now I’m down with the big boys and I got to play a little earlier, right? So for me that was the biggest change or difference.” 

Nick, describe to me what you saw on that touchdown catch. 

“Uh, defenders?” he joked. “Basically, we have a play call that it involves me reading the coverage, reading the defense, and PJ reading the coverage and reading the defense as well. He had a flat concept as well. Two guys from the alley just kind of miscommunicated and broke the coverage and came down. I actually thought that PJ had already thrown the flat. I turned around and looked, and he still had the ball in his hands. He saw me; I went out one-on-one, there was a lot of grass…” 

Did you know what your move was going to be? 

“No, I didn’t. You can’t think about it. You just react and you keep moving. I knew if I got tackled one-on-one I would have never heard the end of it, so I had to make sure that I got in the end zone.”

Watch the full video below:

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