That different light floods through another door, a door behind which Sam may not be found. Yet Sean is disposed to push it open anyway, for peace of mind of a different kind may be waiting there. With Francine getting older, with Neno leaving the nest, Sean understands how making his way, alone if necessary, would benefit his family. "There was an area in my life in which I wasn't growing," he says, "and that was in being on my own, without my security blanket. So this is like an adventure in growing. Sam and I will come back to each other in God's own time. Ecclesiastes. Just take what comes, and try to learn the lessons that life teaches you."
In NFL Europe training camp, for the first time in his life, Sean had a new roommate. He lets out a laugh as he recalls their many incompatibilities. "I'm definitely growing," he says.
In Birmingham's not-half-full Alexander Stadium, a track and field oval with 15,000 seats, the Manuels play out their psycho-drama in relative privacy. Sean throws an open-field block on Sam during a rushing play in the first half. In the second he finds his brother matched against him on a pass route. But that's it. Claymores coach Jim Criner has surprised Sam by calling for a defensive scheme that keeps the twins apart. Sam is grateful, for this puts him at ease and allows him to play better. "It was a lot tougher on me before the game than during it," he says after the Monarchs' 14-10 victory.
"You know, we do this again in three weeks," Sean tells him after the game.
Sam hadn't known the rematch would come so soon. His face falls in disappointment. "Three weeks?" he says. "That is tragic. Tragic." The tragedy is averted only because Sean misses the game with a leg injury and the season is over. But Sean's postgame statement reminds us.
He is still on offense, Sam on defense.