Does it Getz any better?

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Maybe if Ryan Getzlaf had been given the chance, he could be a quarterback.

Maybe the next Russ Jackson.

Who knows? Maybe he'd be firing passes to his brother, Chris, for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Ryan Getzlaf's decision to follow his hockey dreams worked out just fine, but the Anaheim Ducks centre admits he once had gridiron aspirations.

"I wanted to be a quarterback, but nobody would ever let me," said Ryan, who'll be in Calgary tonight to play the Flames.

"I played running back. In the summer when (Chris) is getting ready to go to camp, I love going out and throwing the ball to him and getting him ready and his hands."

So, can Ryan chuck the pigskin?

"You have to ask him. I think I could throw it," he said.

Well Chris, what do you say?

"He probably could have been a good quarterback. He had an arm the whole time, but when we were younger one of our friends was the quarterback the whole time. Ryan was a good running back and a good defensive back," Chris said. "I think he could have thrown the ball. He was an amazing baseball player, catcher. I think he could have taken the baseball route, too."

Instead, Ryan is a star in the NHL and makes up half of a unique sporting combination.

Sets of brother in the NHL is fairly common. The CFL has seen its share, too.

Siblings in the two leagues, however, that's a different story. (Former Stampeders defensive back Greg Peterson and his brother, Brent, whose NHL career spanned more than 600 games.)

Truth be told, Chris wanted to play hockey, too.

At an all-important time in his development, though, he just didn't have it. We're not talking skill. We're talking height.

"I was 5-foot-6 when got my driver's licence, and at that time to go somewhere in hockey, you had to have size," he recalled. "I had an opportunity to play midget triple-A but, at that time, chose football."

That decision has worked out, too. Chris, a 6-foot-1, 208-lb. receiver for his hometown Roughriders took a big step forward this past season.

A first-team All-Canadian and Canada West all-star, the older brother was drafted 33rd overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007, and was traded midway through the season to Saskatchewan.

He didn't see any action in his rookie season for the Roughies, but was on the practice roster for the Grey Cup-winning team.

This past season, he had 15 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The highlight was a five-reception, 98-yard performance against Hamilton Oct. 19.

His biggest fan was playing the Carolina Hurricanes at the time, but Ryan keeps very close tabs on his brother.

"I was able to get his first game. Our video guy taped it for me," Ryan said. "It's awesome to see that success for him.

"He's done such a big part for me, supporting me and the things I've done, been my best friend through the things I've done. It's great to see him succeed at something he loves so much."

Especially when you look at the paths they took.

Ryan was a can't-miss kid from his early teens. The first-round draft choice from the Calgary Hitmen was a junior sensation on the fast-track to the NHL.

Chris wasn't even a starter in football until his Grade 12 year, although he was a standout kick returner in Grade 11.

Ryan knows full well what battles his brother had to overcome.

"We've had two totally different paths to getting to where we are right now," Ryan said. "Things haven't been easy for him. He was never the highly touted guy who everybody was going to give all the opportunities to.

"In football things are different with no minor-league system. You're not getting to ease your way into it. You've got to play and start, or you're not playing much. He waited around, bided his time, worked in practice, and when the chance came took advantage of it."

The Getzlafs also have the distinction of both being part of championship teams simultaneously -- Ryan and the Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup crown a few months before Chris and the Riders captured the Grey Cup.

"Yeah, it was a pretty good year," said their father, Steve.

With plenty more to come.

"I knew Ryan was going to make it big from an early age -- he was always that good of a hockey player," Chris said. "I never looked at it as a thing to be jealous about.

"I knew from a few years ago I had an opportunity to play in this league."


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