GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The conversation topic was the perceived diminishment of the Packers-Vikings rivalry now that the Great Purple Scourge no longer has a whole bunch of players you love to hate.
But along the way, Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett threw a verbal curveball my way.
"They still have guys who get you riled," Pickett said Thursday in the locker room. "But they don't do a lot of trash talking. Trash talking is pretty much gone. The worst trash-talking team we've played lately is Atlanta. Other than that, nobody really does it."
What? Trash talking is virtually extinct in the NFL except in the case of a team that isn't interesting enough to have earned the right to yap? What's next to go? The T-formation?
This is a disturbing trend, maybe temporarily brought out by too much cross-team fraternization during the lockout. Who knows the reason, but heavens to John Randall's motor mouth, but do you ever miss it where the Packers-Vikings are concerned.
It's just not the same without Chris Hovan flapping his gums or Corey Fuller giving Frankie Winters the Three Stooges eye-poke treatment or Randy Moss with the Moon Over Lambeau move or even the quarterback who talked smack by just crossing over.
Oh, the Vikings still have Jared Allen, the NFL player most likely to take up pro wrestling as a second career. But Allen is fairly harmless on a relatively anonymous roster that features a rookie quarterback whose most controversial moment was finishing his undergrad degree at Florida State in 2 1/2 years.
For the sake of the Ontarrio Smith Whizzinator and three-hour cruises on Lake Minnetonka, this Packers-Vikings soiree could use a little more contemporary seasoning lest it become a preseason Buffalo game.
"It's still the Vikings," wide receiver Greg Jennings insisted. "It's still a big-time game because it's a division game. You can't consider what their record is because you're not going to get a 2-6 team. You're going to get a division team that knows what they're going to do."
Hmmm. Maybe I'm just looking at this the wrong way. Silly me, but this seemed like a whole lot more fun before trash talking was replaced by way too much earnestness from the league's only undefeated team about playing a 2-6 bunch at home.
Or maybe not.
"It's going to be extra fun on Monday night," Pickett said. "It's a rivalry game. They don't like us. We don't like them. Even with the personnel changes, it doesn't matter. I don't know. Maybe it's because we're rivals. We play each other so often. I don't know; we just don't really like them."
Now that's the spirit. Dislike them more than the Bears? Because that's what a fan just might dare to think.
"No, we don't like them, either," Pickett said.
What's the Packers-Vikings coming to if top-rope throw-downs are no more anticipated than rolling around in the mud with Chicago? This might just be me, but the Bears have become more about begrudging respect. The Vikings are more about outright loathing, or at least they used to be.
"We approach it like any other game," Jennings said.
What? Are the Packers becoming too corporate to work up a good lather for the Vikings?
"Obviously their identity has been changed because of the personnel turnover, but what they do is still the same," Jennings said. "They're going to hand it off to No. 28. They're going to be in Cover-2 predominantly the whole game. None of their schemes have changed. Just the faces have changed."
That's it. None of those faces is dart-board worthy.
But where's the Minnesota-week fire?
"That's always going to be there, for sure," quarterback Aaron Rogers said. "It's a team you really want to beat. We know the fans really care about this game."
As long as the helmets are purple and horned, sure. But behind the facemasks, it's just not quite the same anymore.