Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson's first playoff run has also served as a mini-reunion tour.
Gipson was reunited with former Cleveland Browns teammate Jordan Poyer when the Jaguars faced the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. On Sunday, he will be reunited with former Browns cornerback Joe Haden.
The two defensive backs spent four seasons together in Cleveland. Now, both are playing for playoff teams who will battle to make it to the AFC Championship Game.
Haden was let go by the Browns this offseason. He ended up signing with Cleveland's AFC North division rivals. He has been a key player in the Pittsburgh Steelers' secondary ever since.
Gipson isn't surprised by Haden's success. He is happy for his friend and former teammate.
The duo's bond runs deep. They've known each other since Gipson entered the league as an undrafted rookie out of Wyoming in 2012.
"Joe Haden is like a big brother to me," Gipson said. "The first thing that stuck out to me was how genuine he was. A genuinely good dude. No matter his status or how much money he made, Joe was just really one of the most down-to-earth people."
Haden wasn't just a big brother to Gipson in Cleveland. He was also a mentor.
Gipson said the former first-round pick taught him a lot about the game when he first signed with the Browns.
"I was drawn to him as a young kid in the league," Gipson said. "When I made the team and started playing and guys started respecting the way I played the game, he was one of my closest guys on the team."
Gipson said that he always admired Haden's swagger during their days in Cleveland. That swagger may have rubbed off on Gipson, who is known for his outlandish soundbites in the Jaguars' locker room.
"It's crazy because you look back and I remember having these conversations in Cleveland," Gipson said. "I thought that I was going to finish my career there. I thought I was going to play with Joe for a long time. That was just the type of bond we had."
The two friends exchanged jerseys following the Jaguars' 30-9 win over the Steelers in Week 5. This week's post-game exchange may be a little different with so much on the line.
Both squads are two wins away from the Super Bowl, so the stakes are very high. While the two players won't face off directly on the field, their friendship will take a backseat during the battle on Sunday.
"For us to be playing in a playoff game against someone I look to as a brother, who I have genuine love for, it's so exciting," Gipson said.
Gipson produced two interceptions during the last meeting between the Jaguars and the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.
He is hoping to duplicate that success on the road this weekend.
"I wish it was in 65-degree weather here in Duval," Gipson said. "But we had a couple of bumps so we've got to go to their place."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.