GREEN BAY – They went at it on the tennis courts nearby, where their dad coached. On the basketball court outside their house, too, and the soccer field.
But Monday night in Las Vegas, the Carlson sibling rivalry will finally hit the gridiron.
Rookie Packers kicker Anders Carlson and older brother/All-Pro Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson are set to play in the same football game for the first time, and little brother can't wait.
"Yeah, to compete all our lives and finally play in a game where we're actually wearing jerseys and competing against each other, it's gonna be awesome," Anders said after Thursday's practice. "I'm really excited."
The lack of shared football matchups has been mostly due to the age difference. Daniel is four years older, so he was off to college at Auburn when Anders started high school.
Then when Anders arrived at Auburn, he redshirted during Daniel's final year (he had redshirted as well).
Asked about their battles in everything else, Anders jokingly said he wouldn't exactly call them "friendly," but he credits both older brothers – Nils is older than both pro kickers – for helping develop an ultra-competitive streak that has served him well.
"It was great because I wasn't a great loser, I'm just going to be honest," Anders said. "When I did lose, I'd be so mad that I'd want to get better. No matter what it was – we'd play board games and I'd get mad and just want to get better.
"I think that competitive nature that's inside me, yeah, it's a lot from my dad and my mom but more so just competing with my brothers. I think that's what made us really close but also just a little fiery, a little (ticked) off sometimes."
The foray into kicking was a "huge blessing," Anders said, and occurred while the family lived in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A fellow church parishioner had come calling for Nils to see if he could kick for the high school football team at The Classical Academy, but Nils was pursuing a soccer career as a goalie in the Carlsons' native Sweden.
"So they're like, 'How about Daniel?'" Anders said. "Daniel tried out, probably hit a 50-yarder that day or something, and the rest is history."
Anders originally stuck with soccer but followed in Daniel's footsteps his sophomore year, made the transition to football, and hasn't looked back. After their staggered, standout Auburn careers (Daniel ranks first and Anders second on the school's all-time scoring list) they were drafted one round apart (Daniel in the fifth by the Vikings in 2018, Anders in the sixth this past spring) and now both kick in the NFL.
Daniel famously lost his job with Minnesota with a flurry of missed kicks at Lambeau Field in the second game of his rookie year, landed with the Raiders and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, and has earned All-Pro honors each of the last two years. It was revealed during the draft that Bisaccia's familiarity with the family influenced the Packers' decision to select Anders as the successor to the franchise's all-time leading scorer, Mason Crosby.
"The most important thing he's talked about is mentality," Anders said of what he's learned from Daniel. "Picking out what you want to do a certain day or in your journey and sticking to it. There's so many ebbs and flows as a kicker, whether it's the day or the season and just trusting what you do. I think that's the biggest thing he's taught me."
Neither has missed a kick so far in 2023, with Daniel 4-for-4 on field goals and 6-for-6 on PATs, while Anders is 5-for-5 and 9-for-9, respectively, and their cheering section at Allegiant Stadium on Monday night will be significant.
Both parents will be there, as will Nils, along with both wives and other family members. Twenty-seven people in all, Anders said. He left it to his brother to secure the tickets because the home team has access to better seats, but he's splitting the cost.
"I'm definitely breaking the bank a little bit," he said, spoken like a rookie.
As for the green-and-gold vs. black-and-silver attire?
"Hopefully my wife's in Packers gear," Anders said. "We'll see about that. She should be. My parents definitely are going to have to split colors … they'll figure that out. But super-excited to see them gameday."
He plans to chat with his brother on the field during pregame, too. If it were allowed, they'd probably do a best-of-five kicking competition or something, for old time's sake.
"I was messing with Anders today and asking him if his brother's going to beat him up before the game," Head Coach Matt LaFleur. "I know what it's like to be the big brother."
That he does, having coached at different times against younger brother Mike, and LaFleur said as much fun as it is to compete against those who are close, the key is to "focus on your job."
Anders appears to already have found the right mental balance.
"I hope he makes every kick, and I hope we win by a lot of touchdowns," he said. "You can't beat playing against your brother."