MINNEAPOLIS - Opening night can't get here fast enough for the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.
Saints safety Darren Sharper is engaging in some serious trash talk on Twitter with former teammates Bryant McKinnie and Visanthe Shiancoe of the Vikings, with Brett Favre right in the middle of it.
Sharper touched things off after Favre announced he was having ankle surgery last week. The talkative safety tweeted "X marks the spot" in reference to the quarterback's ankle. The comment touched a nerve with the Vikings, who believe the Saints took several late hits on their 40-year-old quarterback in New Orleans' overtime victory over Minnesota in the NFC title game in January.
The Vikings responded in kind on Thursday, first after practice and then in cyberspace, more than three months before the teams kick off the NFL season in New Orleans on Sept. 9.
"Sharper had surgery, too. And it was the knee," Shiancoe told members of the media on Thursday morning. "So if 'X' marks the spot on Brett, I wonder what would mark the spot on Sharper? I know which one it is. I know exactly which one it is."
The words quickly got back to Sharper, who challenged Shiancoe to a bet on the season-opening game, throwing in a playfully juvenile twist on the tight end's name for good measure.
"So visanthe stankoe X marks the spot on me, how bout X marks the spot for how many catches and TDs you'll have come Thursday night," Sharper fired back. "X (equals) zero.
"If you feeling yourself put your game check on it. No TDs and less than 3 catches you give me your game check. Now whose talking."
Shiancoe, one of Minnesota's most active tweeters, did not immediately respond to Sharper's baiting, but McKinnie did not hesitate.
"Oh so I heard u was on twitter going in, but I missed it! Man u don't want these problems."
Favre has yet to inform the Vikings if he will return for a second season in purple. But most view his decision to have surgery as an indicator that he will be back.
McKinnie, the big left tackle, tweeted to Sharper that the Vikings offensive line is "the secret service and Brett is Obama, so try 2 get thru if u want 2! Now this is ur warning!"
Sharper was one of the most popular Vikings during his four seasons in Minnesota and was friendly with Shiancoe and McKinnie, so this all could be playful banter. He left before last season and joined the Saints, helping them to a Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Whatever the sentiment is behind it, there is no doubt that it will get plenty of attention from fans and media.
"I bet all this trash talk (at)sharper42 is doing has yall Viking Fans excited 4 the season 2 start!" McKinnie said.
_Bryant McKinnie: (at)bigmacvikings
_Darren Sharper: (at)sharper42
_Visanthe Shiancoe: (at)VShiancoe