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So many times we hear about athletes who are so full of themselves that they refuse an autograph request from a fan. This is not one of those letters. Recently Mike Alstott was shopping and a friend's son requested an autograph. He not only signed an apron of the company that my friend works for, but also took a few minutes to talk with the boy. A few moments to the A-Train, but a lifetime of memories for a small boy.
Mike Alstott is what's right with sports and I applaud the fact that the only thing Alstott charged for his autograph was a smile. Let's hope other athletes can learn from his example.
-- Kevin Counts, Palm Harbor
Everyone needs to relax about the Bucs offense. It needs to get better, but why do we expect such a quick turnaround? We have an offensive line that needs to jell so it can provide some holes, or the running backs never will go anywhere. We need to be more patient with our Bucs. I remember many teams that were able to play good defense and ran the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" offense -- a ball-control offense that picked up a lot of first downs, controlled the clock, won the field-position battle, and most important, got the defense some rest. Our defense is perfectly capable of this if we get it some rest. So think about the game plan before you boo Michael Pittman's next 3-yard run.
-- John Horner Jr., Dunedin
The Bucs have beaten teams with a combined record of 21-36, beating only one team with a winning record (Atlanta). Over the rest of the season, they play teams with a combined record of 30-25. So, what's all the excitement about? Must be the easy schedule.
-- Andrea Schleicher, Tarpon Springs
Tampa Bay's Keyshawn Johnson is one of the NFL's top receivers. Ask him, and he'll tell you so. Again ... and again ... and again. Nearly two weeks ago, he scored two touchdowns and grabbed nine passes for 133 yards in a victory against Minnesota. As if to parody his own outsized personality, Johnson berated a writer during a teleconference Wednesday for suggesting that was his best game of the season. "It's not my biggest game," he replied. "I had a better game in Atlanta! ... I've had better games in my career!" Sheesh, can't the guy accept a compliment? Good as he is, it's easily explained why the Jets traded him to the Bucs. This is a player of high productivity and even higher maintenance.
-- Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer
So the Bucs are 7-2, seem to be weathering most storms nicely enough, and are poised for another run at the elusive Super Bowl berth. Sure, but things aren't as rosy as they appear. This isn't the kind of team that Jon Gruden thought he inherited and, while he won't acknowledge it, this isn't the way he planned on winning football games. Fact is, until a five-touchdown explosion against the Vikings, Tampa Bay was winning pretty much the same way it did under the deposed Tony Dungy. The Bucs offense is still slow, with no deep threat, no consistent runner, a poor line. The playoffs? Definitely. A Super Bowl? Don't bet on it.
-- Len Pasquarelli, espn.com