Baltimore CFL rookies Matt and Malcolm Goodwin are fraternal, not identical, twins. But their sibling bonds have made them almost as inseparable as Siamese twins.
"Growing up in Iowa, we always played on the same sandlot teams and were together on a flag football championship team," Matt, a defensive back, said.
Both Matt and Malcolm, some 30 pounds heavier and a linebacker at Ames High, received offers from several small colleges in the Midwest. But the twins, both excellent students, chose to enroll at Iowa State on academic scholarships and ultimately won spots on the football team as walk-ons.
Matt, a political science major with a law degree in his plans, dropped football his sophomore and junior years to concentrate on his studies and finished with a 3.27 grade-point average.
Malcolm, who earned a degree in management, led the Cyclones in tackles as a senior, ending his college career with a 19-tackle performance against Colorado.
But the twins were separated after graduating in 1993. As free agents, Malcolm won a tryout with the Los Angeles Rams and Matt tried out with the Chicago Bears.
"It was real tough being so far apart after being so close all these years," Malcolm said.
"I ran up a $1,000 phone bill calling Matt."
The Goodwins were released in preseason, with Matt lasting until the Bears' final cut.
"I thought I had it made," Matt said.
"I played in every preseason game and my roommate, Keeshon Johnson, and I were the only rookie defensive backs left. Everyone kept telling me I was safe, but a veteran got cut by Dallas, and the Bears grabbed him and let me go."
This spring, the Goodwins' agent, Robbie Poplin, fielded invitations, and when the twins got an opportunity to audition for the new CFL franchise in Baltimore, they jumped at it.
"There really isn't that much difference in talent from the NFL," Malcolm said.
"There are a lot of guys playing in the CFL who have Super Bowl rings."
The Goodwins survived all the cuts to win jobs on coach Don Matthews' special teams. Matt made an immediate impact in the season-opening 28-20 victory in Toronto on Thursday. In the third quarter, he blocked a field-goal attempt, and in the fourth quarter, he recovered a fumbled punt.
"They were both big defensive plays," Matthews said. "We got a field goal off the block and a rouge [single point] following the recovery."
Matthews has bigger plans for Matt Goodwin in Saturday's home opener against Calgary.
"We're going to use him in our nickel pass defense," the coach said.
"He's got exceptional speed. He was a sprinter in college. He could wind up playing half our downs."
Meanwhile, Matt and Malcolm are sharing an apartment in Towson, not far from the team's practice site.
"It's great being together again, even if we don't have any furniture," Malcolm said, laughing.
NOTES: Matthews auditioned three players yesterday. CFL veteran Ed Britton, cut by Calgary, and Darren Chandler, a former Pittsburgh Steeler who played with Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham at Georgia Southern, are trying out as wide receivers. Stan Petry, dropped by Saskatchewan, is getting a look at defensive back. "Petry was very impressive," Matthews said. "He can run a 4.3 in the 40 and can double as a kick returner." . . . Two more players will be in camp today -- running back Dean Burrell, a rookie from Oregon, and linebacker Brad Henke, who has played in the NFL, CFL and World Football League. Henke will need a week to recover from a hamstring pull. . . . Tackle Shahriah Pourdanesh, rated the team's top offensive lineman, sat out yesterday's workout with a bruised shoulder. He is expected to practice today.