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Football rivalry brings together identical twins

Steve Tazumi and Tom Patterson don't just look exactly alike, they both adore football. Separated at a young age they've since reconnected.

PHOENIX — The computer clicks on and Zoom opens up. The faces of twin brothers appear in the window; one of them is wearing a red jersey with the number 87 on it. The other is wearing a green sweatshirt. The two aren't shy about why they're there and start teasing each other. The interview is ready to begin.

"I'll be happy and he'll have tears in his eyes," Steve Tazumi chuckled.

"You're so wrong brother," Tom Patterson said with a smile.

With less than ten days to go, Tazumi and Patterson are gearing up for one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. And while their love of football unites them, these twin brothers also share a remarkable story of how their rivalry has helped bring them together.

"We were both adopted out of Japan," Patterson said. "Our mother committed suicide. At eight months we weighed six pounds each so we were pretty malnutritious. The orphanage said we were fortunate we lived."

Tazumi and Patterson lived in a Japanese orphanage until they were adopted by two different families. The boys were around two-years-old at the time.

"My dad wanted to adopt both of us out," Patterson said. "But [the orphanage] said he was already adopted out. Come to find out after seeing my brother and talking with him that he wasn't adopted out for another two years."

Tazumi flew to Newark, New Jersey where his mom and dad picked him up. He grew up in South Jersey. Patterson moved to Kansas. The identical twins were too young to know about each other and it wasn't until they were about 16 that they found out about each other.

"It was Christmas time," Tazumi recalled. "My mom and dad told me that I had a twin brother and I said I was very happy for him and I hope he has a great life like we did."

"The way I found out is I got into a big fight with my mom and dad and they said you're just fortunate to be here," Patterson said. "And they threw out papers that were the adoption papers and a few minutes later they put out a paper that said I had a twin brother. I was floored."

Years later, Tazumi says he made the decision to reach out with a letter. He wasn't sure of Patterson's last name but worked with a friend who sent letters to anyone they could find with a similar name. Fate would get one of those letters into Patterson's father's hands.

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"After he got that he was unsure if he should give me the letter or not," Patterson said. "I was living a good life and it took a while to get the letter. He did give me the letter and I called the number. They thought it was a prank so they told me to fax my face to them and when they got that fax they screamed and jumped up and down saying, 'It's Steve! It's Steve with a mustache.'"

When the twins were 40 years old, plans were made for them to meet. The moment at the airport was marked by a crowd of media, friends, and family. They describe it as chaos and say it's a moment they'll never forget.

"It's like I was looking in a mirror and seeing yourself," Tazumi remembered. "It was remarkable."

"My eyes caught contact with his and that's about all I remember," Patterson said. "We embraced and it was an exciting time."

The two instantly bonded and learned, in a weird twist of fate, the two both owned a gym and health club in their respective states. This was before they even knew each other. Patterson also remembers a moment when he actually saw his brother, but didn't know it.

"Tazumi also qualified for the Olympic Games but Carter boycotted it because of conflict with Russia," Patterson said. "So I had a friend of mine in my gym give me an Olympic lifting magazine and saw this picture of a guy lifting weights. This was back when I was about 20 years old and he looked identical to me and I said, 'Yeah, all us Japanese look alike.' But come to find out, I was actually looking at my brother who had qualified in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Olympic Games."

The two have talked with each other almost daily since the meeting. They found other similarities and interests, like football which for the brothers was almost identical. Since Patterson grew up in Kansas he always rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs. Tazumi grew up an Eagles fan so as you can imagine, the upcoming game has generated quite the sibling rivalry.

"The Eagles are going to win," Tazumi said. "My brother is a dreamer, he's a dreamer."

"A lot of people call it the Super Bowl, the Andy Reid bowl, the Kelce brother's bowl," Patterson said. "But it'll be the Steve and Tom bowl. I think it'll be a close game, [the Chiefs] will win by at least three."

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However, behind the sibling rivalry, there's joy. No matter which team wins, their brotherly love can't be beaten. And that's something they both can cheer for.

"We're both winners," said Tazumi. "I've got my brother and we're sharing something together."

"I never had a brother so he means the world to me," said Patterson.

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