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Co-MVPs glad to share award

December 29, 1997

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ Brett Favre didn’t mind sharing his unprecedented third consecutive MVP award with Barry Sanders.

``The more I’ve thought about it, the more excited I am about it,″ the Green Bay Packers quarterback said. ``Sure, I’d like to win it outright. But I can’t complain. I’m sharing it with probably the best running back ever to play the game. I’m not going to argue with that.″

The deadlock didn’t diminish the award, Favre said. In fact, he called the draw poetic justice.

``Barry’s team hasn’t been, record-wise, as good as we have. But yeah, I think it would have been a shame for either one of us not to win it with the years we’ve had,″ said Favre, who became the first passer to throw 30 or more touchdowns in four consecutive seasons while leading the Packers (13-3) back into the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title.

Sanders, Detroit’s 2,000-yard rusher who carried the Lions into the playoffs, was similarly satisfied with the first MVP tie since Philadelphia quarterback Norm Van Brocklin and Detroit linebacker Joe Schmidt shared the award in 1960.

``I guess it puts me in elite company,″ said Sanders, who set a league record with 14 straight games of more than 100 yards rushing. ``I’m glad he let me share it with him this year, because the last couple he’s taken it for himself.″

There will be no on-the-field tiebreaker, however. The Lions lost to Tampa Bay 20-10 in a wild-card playoff Sunday. Had they won, Sanders and the Lions would have visited Lambeau Field on Jan. 4 for a showdown between the co-MVPs.

Favre said his third award was his most satisfying.

``I can’t believe a little country kid like me has won it three times,″ said Favre, who has overcome a car accident in college and an addiction to painkillers to etch his place in history as one of the finest quarterbacks the NFL has known.

``The scary thing is he’s not done,″ Packers receiver Antonio Freeman said. ``He’s still in mid-stride.″

Sort of like Sanders.

Besides their extraordinary talent, what separates Favre and Sanders from their contemporaries is their uncanny ability to turn broken plays into big ones, to drop jaws with stunning regularity.

``You might stop Barry 10 times in a row, but you can’t shut him out,″ Favre said. ``As soon as you say, `Well, we got him,′ he gets away. He’s a great player and you can’t hold a great player down for long.″

The admiration is mutual.

``He reminds me a lot of Michael Jordan,″ Sanders said. ``No matter how successful he’s been, he’s still always the most competitive person on the field. Outside of his incredible talent and everything, he’s always just really competitive.″

Favre said he enjoys watching Sanders more than any other player in the league.

``He’s just fun to watch, his ability to make plays when they’re not there,″ Favre said. ``So many times we’ve all seen him and said, `Well, he’s not getting out of this one.′ And all of a sudden he comes out of the pack of 8-10 guys getting ready to tackle him and now he runs for 60 or 70 yards and you go, `How did he ever do that?′

``That’s what scares you about Barry Sanders _ he’s going to do it somewhere in the game and you know it.″

Favre might just have easily been talking about himself.

``Both of those guys are all-world,″ said Packers free safety Eugene Robinson. ``Dude had 2,000 yards. Barry Sanders, the most prolific running back in history. In history. He’s the bomb, too. Both are deserving. I’m glad it kind of worked out that way.″

``It was a photo finish, but we’ll never see the photo,″ Packers strong safety LeRoy Butler said. ``I think it’s wonderful, because both of them had wonderful years.″

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