Bucs have argument of their own
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 1, 2002
NEW ORLEANS -- The lineman was sprawled across the turf, the victim of a vicious hit, and his attacker stood taunting him, relishing the cheap shot.
There was no penalty on the play, but the incident from the Bucs' 21-7 win over the Green Bay Packers was captured on film for all to witness.
It's the kind of unnecessary roughness that draws a fine and a stern warning of suspension from the NFL commissioner.
At the very least, a coach might want to confront the player after the game.
But the aforementioned play did not involve Warren Sapp and Chad Clifton.
The victim was Bucs defensive lineman Ellis Wyms, and the blow was delivered by Packers offensive lineman Marco Rivera.
Bucs photographer Tom Wagner captured the play on film and a copy is posted above Sapp's locker at One Buc Place.
With Wyms flat on his back and his helmet nearly off his head, Rivera's open hand is cocked and prepared to slam into the face of the Bucs defender.
That wasn't the worst abuse Wyms sustained. He limped off the field after the game with a severely sprained ankle, the result of a chop block across the back of his legs.
Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice escaped a similar fate when he avoided the tactic deployed by the Packers offensive line.
Before Mike Sherman attacked Sapp for the hit on Clifton, maybe the Packers coach should have cleaned up his own glass house.
Rivera wasn't the only cheap-shot artist for the Packers last week. Defensive lineman Cletidus Hunt took a shot out of bounds on Bucs tackle Roman Oben.
"We had a second and nine play or second and 10 play. We tossed the ball to (Michael) Pittman and he's hit out of bounds," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "Standing on the sideline is Roman Oben, and number 97 (Hunt) comes out of nowhere and hits Oben helmet to helmet."
Despite the tactics, Gruden never took a step toward the Packers locker room.
"I can't say anything more about this publicly," Gruden said. "We just hope that (Clifton) is going to be okay."
Every Sunday in the NFL, there are a handful of hits after the whistle or punches in the pile that go unpenalized. But players refrain from trying to inflict injuries.
It's ironic that a legal hit by Sapp on Clifton drew all the attention. And Sherman's offensive line coach, Larry Beightol, responded by threatening retaliation on Sapp by using chop blocks.
It's easy to see why a coach would be outraged.
It's hard to understand why it wasn't Gruden.
* * *
DON'T BE A HERO: Bud Grant used to tell his players that the best ability was availability.
But occasionally, a player's desire to be on the field and his value to the team lead to a bad decision.
Keyshawn Johnson probably should not have played against the Packers.
Johnson, who had a right rib contusion, dropped three passes last week, one that was deflected and intercepted. Johnson said the injury affected his play.
"A few balls got in that I didn't want to reach on," said Johnson, who injured his ribs when he fell on the ball against Carolina. "Routine catches that you just figure, 'Ah, he makes those.' Going in and out of my breaks wasn't as crisp or clean because it grabs you when you try to break. When I go to plant and turn, it pulls."
Johnson said he took himself out of the game, and his replacement, Joe Jurevicius, had a touchdown reception.
FUN ON THE BAYOU: Quarterback Shaun King and defensive tackle Anthony McFarland may not play tonight. King is the No. 2 quarterback and McFarland is doubtful with a broken right forearm.
But both will make big contributions at the Superdome.
King and McFarland, who played collegiately in Louisiana, will cater a postgame feast of ribs, jambalaya, shrimp Creole and black beans and rice.
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