Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Updated: January 24, 4:44 PM ET
Page 2 Quickie: January 20, 2003
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
As if Robert Louis Stevenson decided to come
back and write a sequel to "Treasure Island," Super
Bowl XXXVII between the Raiders and Bucs turns out to
be full of subplots worthy of a great adventure
novel. (Arrr ... think "pirate metaphors" might be one
of them?) Here's a rundown of three of the more
choice ones, with study guides.
Bucs coach Jon Gruden takes on the team he
helped build -- and left last offseason. Study guide:
Chucky knows Oakland well enough to design wrinkles to
defeat them; of course, as chatter emerges that Gruden
wasn't totally beloved by his Oakland players, the
Raiders seem to have just a little motivation.
Who's No. 1?
This is the Super Bowl's first matchup
between the league's top offense (Raiders) and defense
(Bucs). Study guide: Given recent Super Bowl history, it's hard to pick the
best offense over the best defense. Last year, the
hype was all about how the awesome Rams' offense would
wipe out the Pats' D; the Raiders' offense isn't as hyped as those Rams, but the Bucs' D makes
the Pats' D look tame. In fact, the better comparison
for the Bucs is to the champion Ravens two years
ago ... and that team dismantled the Raiders in the
The game features the NFL's top-ranked yapper
-- the Bucs' Warren Sapp -- against one of its bright
up-and-comers, the Raiders' Jerry Porter. Study
guide: The media's job this week is to get players to
say crazy things. Both teams would do well to take
lessons from previous weeks and just shut up and play;
the winner can talk 'til September. But you know that
(Quickie riding 6-0 record in past two
weeks ...) Bucs 27, Raiders 24. The Raiders' D
is vulnerable enough to give up the big play or two
that the Bucs' O needs to hand its own defense a lead it
won't lose. Hearing the same crowd picking the Raiders
that picked the Eagles. More booty for me.
What Next: Eagles
To get to the Super Bowl, do the Eagles need yet
another chance to break through (like the Bucs),
or did they miss most ideal opportunity they'll ever get
-- playing an opponent they've owned in their own
emotionally charged home?
More than "maybe next year"
is in order. The Bucs were in a similar
still-outside-looking-in position last season and were
bold enough to change head coaches, but Andy Reid
isn't the problem (though he was outcoached). Stay
pat or deal: the headcase fans -- exposed
nationally as the fan equivalent of Colonel Jessup --
won't approve either way.
What Next: Titans
During those last-second losses over the last few
weeks, the prevailing wisdom was: Teams didn't lose
it on one play; they had their chances. The Titans
can pinpoint their missed chances to second-quarter
fumble-itis, yielding 10 back-breaking Raiders points. It wasn't just the two players who fumbled; the
defense looked shell-shocked.
While Oakland's players credit
the influence of savvy vets and coach Bill Callahan's
go-for-the-jugular philosophy, the Titans must conquer
the mental game more than anything else. Maybe the
younger players can learn from QB Steve McNair, who
earned the lifetime adjective "gritty" from fans everywhere.
Catch Keyshawn in that old-school No. 12 Terry
Bradshaw jersey? It's the most visible example yet of
the growing trend
of players sporting throwback looks
of teams not necessarily their own, which disproves
the theory that young athletes have no respect for
Johnson may have been all about drawing
Page 2 colleague Jason Whitlock sure thinks so, but at least he was showcasing
symbolism of his commitment to being a champion.
That Las Vegas Super Bowl ad that the NFL
rejected because of the city's association with sports
gambling makes the league look doubly ridiculous; the
ad turns out to be both inoffensive and clever:
Hottie giggling/wriggling in back of a
Strip-surfing limo heading to airport. Exits car
transformed, on all-business phone call.
line: "What happens here, stays here." Brilliant. A
parody of Vegas' more randy good times rather than
something as obvious as, oh, gambling.
Other notable Sunday ads:
Daredevil: Jennifer Garner? I'm in ... Nike:
Soccer streaker pretty funny ... Bud:
Comparing how women and men order in a restaurant a
new classic ... Verizon: All I need is -- to
kick that guy's ass ...