AP Sports Writer

METAIRIE, La. (AP) – In a neighborhood across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter, Miami receiver Mike Wallace and Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis became playmates around age 5.

Their friendship went beyond sports. Wallace didn’t even play football until Lewis persuaded him to join their high school team. A decade later, they’ll go head-to-head for the first time in the Superdome this Monday night.

It’s been a strange week of unfamiliar tension between the longtime friends, who’ve only known each other as teammates. They never clashed in college and both started their NFL careers in Pittsburgh, where they only grew closer as housemates.

Lewis says it feels “kind of weird” to compete against his close friend in a game for the first time, but that both players have been looking forward to it.

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