Hype, trophy presentation more intriguing than Super Bowl
Too bad there aren’t two weeks to promote Super Bowl XXXVII between Oakland and Tampa Bay. There are enough storylines to bring Howard Cosell back from the dead.
Will Raiders’ all-time great receiver Jerry Rice win his fourth Super Bowl without a loss? Will Raiders’ receiver Tim Brown finally win a Super Bowl? Will Oakland linebacker Bill Romanowski equal Charles Haley with his fifth Super Bowl ring and unprecedented third title with different teams? Will Brad Johnson join Trent Dilfer as the least respected contemporary quarterback to ever capture a Super Bowl title?
Unless you have been exploring the Arctic for cheap property deals, then you know by now that the Raiders will get a chance to rip apart their once-beloved “Chucky doll” on Sunday. Before the season, the Raiders allowed popular coach Jon Gruden to escape to Tampa Bay.
Oakland owner Al Davis obviously wants this game more than his players since he is responsible for giving up Gruden for $8 million and four draft picks.
Gruden’s former players aren’t fueling the fire, praising their old coach for his intensity and how he elevated the team’s play in recent years.
Forget what the Buccaneers paid to lure Gruden to Tampa Bay, the franchise made a better deal than J.K. Rowling did on her Harry Potter books. Gruden never took the Raiders to the Super Bowl, but likely would have last year if the officials hadn’t been snow-blind.
As for current Oakland coach Bill Callahan, I’m still unsure if he can give the Raiders consistent winning teams like Gruden did. He is winning with the players Gruden left behind. How will the Raiders do when proven Pro Bowlers like Rice, Brown, Romanowski, Rich Gannon and Rod Woodson retire? My gut feeling is that Gruden will continue to make serious runs at the Super Bowl, even when Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson call it quits.
As for a winner on Sunday, I like the Raiders.
This is one time Gruden will pay for leaving Oakland, even if he exchanges his two hours of daily shuteye for a game plan that would upset the Raiders.
The Raiders have too many veterans who have won Super Bowls. Between Rice, Romanowski and Woodson, they have a collective eight Super Bowl rings. Their insight into handling the weeklong hype won’t be lost. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, will be a team wide-eyed and overwhelmed by its first trip to the Super Bowl.
While the Buccaneers have a decidedly better defense, the Raiders have huge advantages in all of the skill positions. Come on, Gannon vs. Johnson, who do you think is more capable of bringing home a Super Bowl trophy?
But the deciding factor will come into play in the second half. After a tightly contested, opening 30 minutes, the Bucs’ defense will wish they were chasing Michael Vick instead of Gannon and his silver-haired cohorts. In their two decisive playoff victories, the Raiders wore down and pulled away from two of the league’s hottest teams — the Jets and Titans — in the fourth period because their offensive and defensive lines were superior.
Won’t it be interesting to watch NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue present the Lombardi Trophy to Davis? That might be better than the game.
— Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or
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