When Brett Favre lines up under center on Sunday and locks eyes with Ray Lewis, it could be like looking into a mirror _ sort of.
Favre and Lewis bear no physcial resemblance to each other. But as players, their similarities are striking.
Both are putting together monster seasons at ages where they really have no business still playing their positions. And both approach the game with a passion and love that spreads to their teammates and earns them the type of respect inside their locker rooms that few of their peers enjoy.
"Two guys who've had extended careers for their position," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You do not see many linebackers play 14 years, especially middle linebackers.
"How many quarterbacks have been able to play for as long as Brett has and at the level that he is at? The passion, the fire, the leadership, the things that these guys stand for on opposite sides of the ball. There are probably a lot of similarities there."
The 40-year-old Favre is still slingin' it in his 19th season in the NFL, while the 34-year-old Lewis continues to defy physics by slamming his body into opposing linemen and running backs in year No. 14.
"I feel like vets like that, who have seen everything, and on top of that are sharing their knowledge to everybody else, that's a plus," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "That's like having a lead dog, an alpha male there to really guide you and lead you."
They meet on the football field for just the third time ever when Favre's Vikings (5-0) host Lewis's Ravens (3-2) on Sunday.
For the Vikings, whose first five opponents have a combined record of 7-17, it will be their biggest test of the season.
The Ravens, meanwhile, will be looking to stop a two-game slide and rebound after Cincinnati's Cedric Benson became the first running back to top 100 yards against Baltimore's proud defense in 40 games.
Favre joined the Vikings in August and has given the team the kind of consistent, playmaking ability at quarterback that the team has ached for during most of this decade. He has completed 69 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception to help Minnesota to its best start in six years.
His teammates have quickly embraced the man they playfully call "The Silver Fox," electing him a captain. And he has rewarded them by posting the fourth-best rating in the league and delivering a heart-pounding comeback victory over San Francisco three weeks ago.
"Favre is the true, true, true professional, the true warrior anytime he steps on the football field," Lewis said.
Lewis, of course, has been the heart and soul of the Ravens for his entire career. He is tied for eighth in the NFL with 45 tackles and made one of the signature plays of this season so far when he burst through the line and stuffed San Diego running back Darren Sproles on fourth-and-2 to preserve a victory over the Chargers.
"There are a lot of guys that talk the talk but don't walk the walk," Favre said. "He is one of them that walks it."
And struts it. And dances it. And chest-pounds it. Lewis's entrance into the Ravens' stadium for home games is legendary, and he is known for his ability to inspire his teammates with fiery speeches and impassioned gestures.
Favre doesn't hesitate to show emotion and has a reputation for tackling teammates after throwing them a touchdown pass. But he's not one for grandiose speeches. And he certainly doesn't have the dance moves that Lewis does.
It works just the same.
"It's contagious, man. When you see their confidence, it's like you get that too," Shiancoe said. "You see their level of play constantly increase, so it makes your level of play increase because of your work ethic. So you want to put in more work to be on the field with that guy and contribute like he does."
While some have tired of Favre's to-play-or-not-to-play antics from the past two offseasons, Lewis understands.
"There's no coming back. There's no getting this fountain of youth and finding your way back," Lewis said. "You've got to respect that because he understands. ... I commend a man that goes to war, day-in and day-out, no matter what anybody says."
Favre, who holds practically every career passing record worth having, went so far as to say he was honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Lewis.
"Trust me, to have passion like he does, like I like to think I do, play-in and play-out, week-in and week-out," Favre said. "Do you have bad games? Sure. Do you have bad days at practice where you don't feel like talking to anybody? Absolutely. But when you need him or things kind of go astray, who do you turn to? ... Very few players have that ability to right the ship when needed. He's one of those players. It would be a blast to play with him."