Hovan finds himself in Tampa

November, 15, 2008
11/15/08
3:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

It's taken a while, but it looks like former Minnesota defensive tackle Chris Hovan has grown up during his time with Tampa Bay.

 
 Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 Chris Hovan is in his fourth season with the Bucs.

Hovan, who will face his former team Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, left Minnesota after one of the more inexplicable meltdowns in that era of the Vikings. On the cusp of the Pro Bowl in 2002, Hovan got caught up in his persona as a John Randle clone and grew highly frustrated when double teams and other obstacles limited his production. A bizarre, one-sided feud with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre was also hard to understand.

Hovan fumed and pouted at the same time, leaving the Vikings no choice but to bench a player they once believed would be a centerpiece of their defense for a long time. Hovan signed in 2005 with Tampa Bay, whose one-gap defense proved more appropriate for his style, and abandoned his efforts to play at a high weight. (Ironically, the Vikings switched to the same one-gap style in 2006.)

Instead of playing a step slow at 320 pounds, Hovan is at about 305 pounds. He has started for the Bucs ever since, and according to this story by Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune, Hovan has cooled his volatile personality. He is now married, has three children and understands the mistakes he made with the Vikings. He called his slip in Minnesota "a slow drift" and added:

"If I could do it all again, I wish I had been drafted by Tampa, because it's been such a good fit. When I left Minnesota, I did a lot of soul-searching and then I found my soulmate. I guess life throws you curveballs once in a while."

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