Smith vs. Horn Equals Friend vs. Friend

Vikings safety Dwight Smith and Falcons receiver Joe Horn have been rivals, teammates and, above all, friends. The two will renew a rivalry Sunday at the Metrodome. See what Smith had to say about their friendship, Horn's big heart and big mouth and their on-field rivalry.

A couple of hours before game time Sunday, there will be a meeting and a hug somewhere near midfield, as Joe Horn and Dwight Smith renew acquaintances.

Smith and Horn have seen their careers intertwine over the years – both as hated division rivals and teammates. Along the way, they have built a friendship that extends far beyond the football field.

"Joe is a great person and a good friend," Smith said. "He's been a friend of mine and I've learned a lot from him – stuff on and off the field.

For the first four years of his NFL career, Smith played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the top dog in the NFC South when he arrived and a frequent opponent of the Saints, for whom Joe Horn was their top receiver.

In 2002, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, but two of their four losses that year came to Horn and the Saints and a rivalry was born.

"Those games were always tough because there was a lot of emotion to them," Smith said. "It's like when the Vikings play Chicago or Green Bay. Emotions were always up for those games."

And with it came some of the obligatory trash talk. Horn is well-known for giving defenders the needle when he's beat them and, at times things would get a little heated. While Smith tried to stay above the fray, Horn was able to get to some of his teammates.

"He let's you hear it," Smith said of Horn's trash talking. "I usually tried to ignore it because I know how Joe is during games and he likes to get in your ear. He thinks it gives him an advantage. On some guys, he would get them mad and they would try to do too much. From that side of things, it worked."
The relationship between Smith and Horn took a sharp turn in 2005 when Smith was signed by the Saints and he and Horn became teammates. Just a month after play began, the Saints lost their home when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Superdome and the Saints spent the next year playing all of their games on the road. The team got close knit and Horn was the glue that held much of the season together.

"He wasn't just a player on that team, he was a leader," Smith said. "I gained a lot of respect for him because he knew how much the team meant to the city (of New Orleans) and he was out there helping wherever he could. He helped with getting food and water to people and he cheered them up by showing up in their neighborhood. He helped the city a lot."

That being said, Horn and Smith again find themselves intertwined on the football field – this time once again on opposite ends of the field. Horn will likely be all smiles and hugs before the game, but once it starts, the smack talk will likely be back. The thought brought a smile to Smith's face, but he had a word of warning for his friend.

"We'll be friends before the game and after game," Smith said with a smile. "But you put a helmet on, I wouldn't let my grandma come across the middle on me. If he does, he knows where I'll be at … real quick."


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