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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    [size=18px]'I'm living a dream'[/size]

    Chris Hovan has re-energized the Bucs' defense -- and it has re-energized him.

    Chris Harry
    Sentinel Staff Writer

    Posted August 6, 2006


    LAKE BUENA VISTA -- The heat-index dial behind him reads 105 degrees.

    Chris Hovan's arms and legs are sunburned. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle has been banging heads in the training-camp trenches for a week. His hands and knees are cut, and his leg muscles are sore. In five minutes, he'll have to take intravenous fluids in his arm.

    Sweat beads cover his face.

    So does a smile.

    "I love it! Every single minute of it!" Hovan said. "Can't wait to do it again tomorrow."

    Coach Jon Gruden calls Hovan a "strapped-down war daddy" who brings passion and energy to the job daily. Or, in the case of training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports, twice daily.

    But two years ago, Hovan wasn't as strapped down by the game as beaten down by it.

    Once one of the most promising nose guards in the NFL, Hovan fell out of favor in Minnesota. The Vikings changed schemes and went looking for bigger defensive linemen.

    Hovan, a former first-round draft choice, was phased out. He was in his mid-20s and on the free-agent streets, along with a "bad-attitude" label the Vikings had tagged to him.

    That's when Tampa Bay called. All the Bucs offered was a one-year, minimum-salary contract. It was all he needed. In return, Hovan gave blinding loyalty and the best nose-tackle play of Tampa Bay's decade run of defensive dominance.

    "We already went hard, but he helped us take 'hard-nosed' to another level," defensive end Simeon Rice said. "Just check out the numbers against the run."

    In 2003, the season after winning Super Bowl XXXVII, the Bucs ranked 13th in run defense. In '04, they fell to 19th, allowing 123.3 yards per game -- most of it straight up the gut.

    Enter the 6-foot-2, 295-pound Hovan. Opponents' rushing output fell by almost 30 yards (94.7 per game) in '05. Tampa Bay rated sixth against the run, renewed its status as the game's No. 1 defense and returned to the playoffs.

    "I don't know what happened in Minnesota," Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "But I know something happened here that sprung some deep, inner feelings Chris has for this game."

    Hovan was playing for the love of it again.

    "I came from an organization that didn't care about defense, that put it on the back burner," said Hovan, who finished last season with 64 tackles and his motor still running. "Think Tampa Bay and what comes to your mind? Defense, of course. We may have an offensive coach -- and I'm glad we do -- but [Tampa Bay] and this team were built on defense, and I count my blessings every day just to put a Buccaneers helmet on."

    The Bucs made re-signing Hovan a priority for '06. As if he needed further motivation, Hovan was rewarded with a five-year, $17.5 million contract extension.

    Now, Hovan has a new life and home in Tampa. He and fiancee Jaimi Kittay are expecting their first child. He gives thanks for them when he wakes up each day, then goes to work and ducks his head in the same huddle with Brooks, Rice and Ronde Barber.

    "I'm living a dream, and I hope I never wake up," Hovan said.

    "This place, these people, really matter to me. The men and women in this organization bust their [behinds]. I appreciate them and what they did for me. I don't want to disappoint them. I don't want to cheat them."

    He's disappointed no one. And for Gruden, it's tough to envision his "strapped-down war daddy" ever cheating the game he loves.

    "Chris Hovan is fanatical about football," Gruden said. "In 15 or 20 years, you might go to a stadium and see him out there in the parking lot, tailgating, grilling sausages, with his face painted. He loves it."

    And he gets to do it again today.

    Chris Harry can be reached at [email protected]

    'I'm living a dream'

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    VikingsTw is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    I'm hoping the same thing can happen for Napolean Harris, maybe he kicks ass this year and gets reward a new contract. I don't know what happen to Hovan while he was here, but it looks like he's back to the beast he was his rookie and sophmore seasons. Good luck to him.

  3. #3
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    "VikingsTw" wrote:
    I'm hoping the same thing can happen for Napolean Harris, maybe he kicks jiggly butt this year and gets reward a new contract. I don't know what happen to Hovan while he was here, but it looks like he's back to the beast he was his rookie and sophmore seasons. Good luck to him.
    Two words;

    Coaching & Cotrell

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  4. #4
    FedjeViking is offline Ring of Fame
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    "singersp" wrote:
    "VikingsTw" wrote:
    I'm hoping the same thing can happen for Napolean Harris, maybe he kicks jiggly butt this year and gets reward a new contract. I don't know what happen to Hovan while he was here, but it looks like he's back to the beast he was his rookie and sophmore seasons. Good luck to him.
    Two words;

    Coaching & Cotrell
    Yep, that says it all! But I'm glad he's happy where he is.
    [move]"Our day WILL come!! I just hope I LIVE long enough to see it!"[/move]

  5. #5
    cc21 is offline Ring of Fame
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    Well I guess I am happy for him. To bad he couldn't stay a beast in Minnesota. But who knows, maybe he will do the same thing in Tampa Bay, that he did in Minnesota. Play awsome ball for a couple of years and then for no reason really, just plain suck.

  6. #6
    ItalianStallion's Avatar
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    "singersp" wrote:
    "VikingsTw" wrote:
    I'm hoping the same thing can happen for Napolean Harris, maybe he kicks jiggly butt this year and gets reward a new contract. I don't know what happen to Hovan while he was here, but it looks like he's back to the beast he was his rookie and sophmore seasons. Good luck to him.
    Two words;

    Coaching & Cotrell
    You can't blame coaching when the guy was getting clearly outplayed by Kevin Williams and Spencer Johnson. I don't know if he was playing in a scheme that wasn't suited to his abilities or what, but the guy couldn't shed blocks in his last couple years. It became an anomaly when he actually made a tackle.


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  7. #7
    BadlandsVikings's Avatar
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    I'm glad to see him happy somewhere esle, and getting a chance to play.

  8. #8
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    "ItalianStallion" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    "VikingsTw" wrote:
    I'm hoping the same thing can happen for Napolean Harris, maybe he kicks jiggly butt this year and gets reward a new contract. I don't know what happen to Hovan while he was here, but it looks like he's back to the beast he was his rookie and sophmore seasons. Good luck to him.
    Two words;

    Coaching & Cotrell
    You can't blame coaching when the guy was getting clearly outplayed by Kevin Williams and Spencer Johnson. I don't know if he was playing in a scheme that wasn't suited to his abilities or what, but the guy couldn't shed blocks in his last couple years. It became an anomaly when he actually made a tackle.
    Well he's certainly doing fine now & he himself blamed it on the coaching.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  9. #9
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    Last time I saw Hovan, I was yelling at him outside of Raymond James stadium as he walked to his car.I yelled. GO VIKINGS, YOU SUCK HOVAN!He then proceed to grill me back.Anyways if he wasnt a Buc, I'd have respect for him still.But I HATE the Bucs.So I hate him.There you see how easy that is?

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  10. #10
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    Re: Hovan: 'I'm living a dream'

    Well I guess good for him that he's happy, even though I don't really like the guy.

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