GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- A sideline scuffle that resulted in fines to six players wasn't even the headline act the last time the Minnesota Vikings played the Green Bay Packers.
Brett Favre and Chris Hovan exchanged obscene gestures and nasty words as they crossed paths leaving the field. The border rivalry that had just reached new heights in a particularly intense 26-22 win by Green Bay that frigid night last December suddenly sank to new depths.
Is Round 2 coming Sunday?
"We're going over to play a football game," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "I'm not Don King. We're not going over to have a boxing match."
Until this week, however, when third-string quarterback Shaun Hill donned it for the scout team, a replica Favre jersey hung in Hovan's locker all offseason as motivation for the rematch.
When Favre heard about the jersey in July, he said Hovan needed to get a life and, while he was at it, maybe a wife.
Hovan countered that Favre must be going through a mid-life crisis. And while Hovan agreed he may have been be looking for love in all the wrong places, at least "I love me."
Fans expecting barbs worthy of a boxing match weigh-in were disappointed this week as Favre and Hovan downplayed their feud so as not to give each other any more ammunition.
"This ain't my first rodeo," Favre said. "My job is tough enough, and this is what people don't understand: Why would I want to provoke a defensive player to make it tougher? I don't want to get anything going that hasn't already been going."
Hovan felt the same way.
"I'm not giving you any fuel," he told reporters. "I'm not playing into your hands."
But he admitted he enjoys the subplot to the storied series that is tied at 41 wins each.
"This is not a real personal thing. It's just a professional thing," Hovan said. "I don't think it hurts the game at all."
Both Favre and Hovan said they respect each other's game so much they'd love to be teammates. But they're opponents, so they'll probably be in each other's face and trash-talking as usual Sunday when the Packers rededicate the remodeled Lambeau Field.
Favre would just as soon never get within earshot of the ebullient Hovan.
"His job is to put me on my butt. So, it's a little different from his point of view," Favre said. "My job is to lead this offense down the field and score."
Some of Favre's teammates accuse Hovan of being a Warren Sapp wannabe who has chosen to make a name for himself off Favre.
"Hovan's a (heck) of a player," said center Mike Flanagan, who will team with guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle to try to keep Hovan more than an arm's length from Favre. "It's just that now his mouth is overshadowing his play, which I think is a shame.
"But if he wants to run his mouth, we're going to do what we can to shut him up."
A steady dose of a healthy Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport might do the trick. The Packers are counting on their running game to set the tone this season.
The Vikings wanted to do the same thing, but Michael Bennett had surgery in July to fix a stress fracture in his foot and he could be out all year.
With Doug Chapman nagged by injuries -- a sprained ankle has him questionable for Sunday -- and rookie Onterrio Smith still learning, Moe Williams is Minnesota's featured back.
Each team revamped their secondary.
A bigger Al Harris replaced Tyrone Williams at right cornerback for the Packers, but Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper has a pulled groin that could keep him out, which would be a huge help to the beefed-up Randy Moss.
Strong safety Corey Chavous is the only returning starter in the Vikings' secondary. He's joined by Brian Russell at free safety and Denard Walker and Brian Williams at cornerback.
The Packers are coming off a 12-4 season, the Vikings were 6-10. Neither team expects the gap to be as great this season.
"I think maybe our goals are a little different than theirs," Flanagan said. "Theirs is to beat the Green Bay Packers and ours is to go to the Super Bowl. Part of getting to the Super Bowl is beating them, but this isn't our sole focus for this year."
Hovan won't argue that he's been looking forward to this since Dec. 8. How could he not? There's no rivalry in the NFL that's better, he said.
"I know brothers that hate sisters during this week, wives that hate their husbands," Hovan said. "It's just a family splitter."
And Hovan would love to add to this family feud by getting to Favre, whose jersey will go back up in his locker next week because the Packers visit Minnesota on Nov. 2.
Favre doesn't have Hovan's purple No. 99 jersey hanging up anywhere.
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