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NFC Conference Championship Chat with Darren Sharper

    <span>              <span style="">Being a veteran who has played for Green Bay, with Brett Favre, and Minnesota, do your teammates come up to you for pointers?</span>                   

"They don't come to me, I give them the information that I have – any extra tidbits, tendencies, anything that I know. I always want to help any of our guys out on defense, offense and special teams."

You know this scenario from going through it before from Green Bay to Minnesota, don't you?

"Yeah, I've been through this before, as they say. Not in a game this big, but I've been through this before."

Did you think it would be a possibility to play in the NFC Championship Game against the team you left?

"Yeah, I thought we'd have a chance to face them because I knew they had a good team and I knew we had a good team, also. So if we played well and they did – at the beginning of the season you could see they were on a roll winning games – you could sort of say destiny. Things were adding up and we looked like we were on a collision course. When they got the second seed and we were the first seed, you could definitely see this thing materializing and us having to see them in the playoffs."

How much extra motivation do you have?

"The motivation is being the NFC Championship Game. That's all the motivation you need."

Nothing personal?

"Well, whenever you face your old [teammates], it's just like going in the back yard. You're playing against someone that you know or are familiar with, it is always going to be extra motivation because you want to beat them because you know the guy that is right across from you. That will be the extra motivation right there."

How did Brett Favre go the whole season throwing only seven interceptions?

"They're smarter with the football. I think the cast that he has around him allows him to be more careful with the football. The style of offense that they run, his reads are pretty much defined for him and it really goes back to him not making too many errant throws. And at times, he throws the ball so hard that a lot [defenders] haven't caught the chances they have to make plays on them. He's just playing well right now. All of his statistical categories are the best of his career so it's more of him than anything else for the reason he hasn't turned the ball over."

Do you know that Visanthe Shiancoe is practicing the "Sharper Shake?"

"He's been practicing that for a while, but I don't think his rhythm is good enough to do that dance. You have to have a lot of rhythm. But we're going to try to keep him from the end zone so we don't have to worry about that."

What's most important to keep in mind when playing Brett Favre?

"That he can make any throw from every position on the football field. He's a guy that can still make plays with his feet. He will trust his receivers and put the ball up in areas that a lot of quarterbacks might not. I think that's the main thing, to know that the play is always alive when he has the ball."

Are there any Vikings he looks forward to seeing?

"I'm looking forward to seeing all of them. I had a good time there – a lot of friends that I still talk to and will always talk to once I stop playing. A lot of good relationships there so I am looking forward to seeing a lot of the guys."

What went through your mind when you found out you would be playing the Vikings?

"First, I was excited to be playing in the Championship Game – the game that is the next step in getting to our goal of reaching the Super Bowl. Once I found out it was Minnesota, it adds a little bit extra to it because of the time spent there, the relationships that I spoke of before with the guys and also the fans there. That made it more special for me, but just the fact that it's the Championship Game, the game that gets you into the big show was big enough."

Which dome is louder, the Superdome or the Metrodome?

"It's depends if you're up or if you're losing. I think both domes are tough to play in. It would be tough to say because when I was in Minnesota I was deaf at the end of the game and then here I am still a little hard of hearing at the end of the game."

Where does Adrian Peterson rank among NFL running backs?

"He's the top guy if you ask me. The best running back. He's the best running back in the league because of all the things that he can do. Whatever you want a running back to be, you want a running back to have size, you want him to have speed, elusiveness – tough – he has all of those attributes."

If all the guys in the secondary are asking you about Minnesota's receivers, are the guys up front asking you about Peterson?

"We're asking each other about everyone because all of us will pretty much run into all of those players."

Was there any part of you that wanted to stay in Minnesota?

"When you come to being a free agent, you just want a chance to be able to continue to play, weather is was staying in Minnesota or going on to a different city to continue to play, you just want to continue to play football. That was my attitude weather it was in Minnesota or somewhere else."

Was it assumed that you were going to leave Minnesota at the end of last year?

"I started with Tyrell [Johnson] for half the season and he was drafted as a second-round pick. You can see the business side of it that you had a guy that you paid, Madieu Williams, who before that was coming in to be a starter with me. I was a guy who was a free agent so of course you are going to let the rookie play, who played well when he played with me last year, so it was kind of an easy transition."

Were there any discussions of him re-signing with Minnesota?

"We talked, we talked, but that was an easy transition for them though."

What was the role you have had in changing the culture of this defense?

"I think the main thing when people talk about changing the culture of our defense was just becoming a playmaking defense – something I've done in the past, something I kind of brought here. Our turnover numbers have increased. I think that is something I've carried with me throughout my career with whatever defense I've been a part of. Just having the ability to cause turnovers and make big plays, I think that was the main culture that I added to this defense."

What do you think of your role as the elder statesman on the defense?

"I think that is the main thing, a guy they have watched play for a long time, the younger guys. Having the experience factor, I think I'm a person they can look up to, can learn from, try to pick my brain, watch how I go about my day-in and day-out activities, how I prepare myself and just being a leader in that area. I am not going to be a guy that is going to be too much of a vocal, boisterous type of leader, but I am going to say things when deem necessary. I think that's the main thing that you see of guys that have been in the league for a long time, guys that are younger than them you just look and see how they have been able to last that long in the league."

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