Favre, Hovan Avoid The Hype

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Last season they went facemask to facemask in the Metrodome and exchanged heated words on a chilly night at Lambeau Field, but Wednesday it was nothing but love for Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan.

Suddenly the two-man rivalry that once had the banter of a prizefight has all the punch of a tea party.

At least for now.

There's nothing to say that Favre and Hovan won't resume their spirited chats this Sunday at Lambeau Field, in the regular-season opener for their respective teams, but mum's the word midweek.

"I'm not giving you any fuel," Hovan told members of the Wisconsin media in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. "I'm not playing into your hands."

Perhaps Hovan feels he's said enough already. Or perhaps he doesn't trust what the media would do with his words.

According to various newspaper reports, this offseason Hovan purchased a Favre jersey to hang in his locker for inspiration and said the three-time NFL MVP was the ultimate prize.

Favre responded to that in July by laughingly suggesting that Hovan "needs to get him a wife and have some kids and get a life outside of football ... Five or six years from now he'll go, 'God, what an idiot I was.'"

Of course in several reports that followed, Favre's statements were shortened to suggest that he simply called Hovan "an idiot" and told him to "get a life."

That kind of treatment by the press, Hovan said, has made the rivalry seem bigger than intended.

"I think it's the media hyping it up more than anything," Hovan said. "We've had our fun, but some of it is taken out of context.

"Brett's a great player. I respect the hell out of him. He's a (future) Hall of Famer. But this game's about two teams, not two men."

This weekend Favre expects that Hovan will bring his "intensity" and do his best to disrupt the Packers' offense, but he doesn't consider the Vikings standout to be a dirty player and isn't worrying about any cheap shots.

In fact, Favre said he's doing his best not to think about Hovan altogether.

"We have to beat Minnesota," Favre said. "I don't have to beat Chris Hovan. His job is to put me on my butt, so it's a little different from his point of view. My job is to lead this offense down the field and score.

"I think people get bored with just the basics, so they're looking for something to add to it."

A first-round draft pick out of Boston College in 2000, Hovan has yet to sack Favre in three seasons as a pro, but he has been disruptive.

When the Packers and Vikings first met last season, Favre had thrown only four interceptions through nine games. After he threw three picks against Minnesota, some suggested that Hovan got in Favre's head with his war of words.

But Favre put that theory to rest two weeks later when he completed 22 of 32 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Packers to a come from behind win in freezing weather that ended with a skirmish between both clubs.

As Favre and Hovan exited the field that night, their exchange of words might not have been the beginning of a friendship, but Favre insists it wasn't the start of a personal war.

"Maybe one game it looked like I was jawing with this guy more than the next, but my job doesn't change," Favre said. "It's tough enough to do what I do when no one's talking ... Who you're playing against individually doesn't matter."

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