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September 8, 2002
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[Times photo: Kevin White]
It took some time, but the consistent play and dedication of quarterback Brad Johnson, left, has earned the respect of coach Jon Gruden.
He's still the one
He may have little flash and mobility, but the Bucs' Brad Johnson proves time and again that he's the best QB.

OL trades papers for pigskins
Cornell Green moves from Times newsprint worker to Bucs starter.

Sapp's goals, Gruden's thoughts? You pick 'em
TAMPA -- It's time to kick off another Bucs season, but with the changes made under Jon Gruden, you might want to test your knowledge of the team. Below is a questionnaire. Like the new offense, it's multiple choice.

Bucs side line
LT Brown hopes 18th season ends superbly

Chucky's Chalk Talk vs. the Saints
Bucs coach Jon " Chucky" Gruden on the New Orleans Saints.

High Profile: Michael Pittman
THE BOOK: A four-year player for the Cardinals, Michael Pittman is more of a power runner than a slasher. At 6 feet, 218 pounds, he is more likely to try to run through a defender than around one. Who's going to challenge him anyway, considering he sports a tattoo that reads, "The Real Black Superman."

It's a woman's world for McCardell
Receiver Keenan McCardell spends his day among men and his nights among women, with wife Nicole, and daughters Keandra (6), Nia and Nakeeya (11 months). Here he is on the female world, shoes, dressing up, smothered steak and groupies who follow the team.

Letters: Don't kick a Buc when he's jobless
It was wrong for Gary Shelton to blast Kenyatta Walker (A bust? That's up to Walker, Tuesday). I am not a Walker fan, but the guy is having a rough time, and Shelton blasted him on the sports section front. If Shelton had just lost his job, would he like someone putting it on the front page saying how he was a cocky kid who got what was coming to him? I agree he deserved to be benched, but to put it on the front page and insult him like Shelton wrote and the editor published is a lack of class.

John Romano
Anticipation is brewing for unpredictable Bucs
TAMPA -- For weeks, you have carried this feeling inside. It has been difficult to pinpoint and impossible to articulate. It does not gnaw as much as tickle. And it grows stronger daily.

Johnson grateful to be back
ST. PETERSBURG -- Russ Johnson was in a Rays uniform Saturday for the first time since July 5.

'About as bad as you can get'
A fifth straight loss, 11-2 to Texas, drops Tampa Bay to lowest point in club history with only call-ups of Triple-A stars to give hope.

Rays tales
BOBBLING ALONG: Following in the footsteps of Fred McGriff and the even larger ones of mascot Raymond, Steve Cox today becomes the third Ray to have his own bobblehead doll. (Unless you count Jason Tyner, whose bobbleheads were left in a warehouse after he was sent to the minors, or Toby Hall, who originally was to be today's subject).

Deal's impact a year or two off
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will get more money from the increased revenue sharing in the new labor deal, but don't expect it to make much difference in their plans next season.

10 Lightning questions entering camp
Anyone with answers to these questions as the Lightning prepares for Thursday's camp should call either coach John Tortorella or general manager Jay Feaster at (813) ... Just kidding.

Lightning camp
WHEN: Players report Thursday. Practices begin Saturday.

A simple plan: score more
BRANDON -- Lightning center Vinny Prospal considered the team's 19 one-goal losses last season and shook his head.

As security increases, fervor fades
Searches and restrictions become common as the patriotic zeal that enveloped sports wanes.

Hubert Mizell
Spurrier's struggles should be short-lived
WASHINGTON -- Put your ear to the historic marble in this monumental town, from Capitol Hill on past the White House to Georgetown -- what you hear are Washington residents talking politics, terrorism, the economy and Steve Spurrier.

Gary Shelton
A Heisman primary yields no early leader
GAINESVILLE -- The game began with thoughts of the Heisman Trophy. It ended that way, too.

The Hurricanes overwhelm the Gators in a much-anticipated showdown.

Miami AD would like to play UF regularly
GAINESVILLE -- For the 51st time, Florida and Miami played a college football game Saturday. They will meet for a 52nd time next year at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Beyond that, no one is sure.

Miami quotebook
Florida quotebook

UM runner seems here to stay
It took an injury for Willis McGahee to find the spotlight. He's comfortable in it.

At right time, DBs emerge for Miami
A young unit steps up and stifles heralded QB Rex Grossman.

College football
Late power steers Bulls to win
USF 37, NIU 6: A sluggish first half gives way to a high-octane second in all phases.

Rubin hopes to sustain start
Receiver is quick out of the gate for the third straight season, but this time he'd like to avoid the injuries that derailed him the first two.

NIU's top tailback Hammock sits out
TAMPA -- Minutes before Saturday's kickoff, Northern Illinois officials announced star running back Thomas Hammock would not play because of "very, very serious medical reasons," but provided no details.

College football notebook
Sooners QB tears ACL, out for year

C-USA: Nix fights way back in win for S. Miss
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- As Southern Mississippi tailback Derrick Nix lay face-down in the end zone Saturday, he didn't quite feel like celebrating his touchdown.

ACC: Gamecock turnovers lift Cavs
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Matt Schaub threw three touchdown passes, and Virginia took advantage of seven South Carolina turnovers to beat the 22nd-ranked Gamecocks 34-21 on Saturday.

Big 12: Colorado scores win without QB
BOULDER, Colo. -- Chris Brown ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns as No. 17 Colorado overcame the loss of starting quarterback Craig Ochs to beat San Diego State 34-14 Saturday.

Pac-10: FSU transfer Darling has 3 TDs for Wash. St.
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Devard Darling and Jonathan Smith each had three touchdowns as Washington State beat Idaho 49-14 Saturday.

Around the state
Late surge gives B-CC win vs. Florida Atlantic

Big Ten: Coach wakes Spartans in time
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- A few choice words from coach Bobby Williams at halftime seemed to spark Michigan State on Saturday.

Big East: Texas A&M converts on Pitt's PAT woes
PITTSBURGH -- A narrow victory far from home Saturday wasn't enough to end Texas A&M's muddled quarterback situation. Pittsburgh was searching for answers, too, after botching two extra points that cost them a possible upset.

Irish win despite offense
Notre Dame scores on three turnovers to beat Purdue 24-17.

SEC: Bama's bid bobbled: Sooners avoid upset
NORMAN, Okla. -- The first game between Oklahoma and Alabama since 1970 proved to be worth the wait.

Serena wins 3rd straight in sister slam
Venus Williams struggles with her serve, and her younger sister extends her streak of major titles.

Men's final a flashback for two 'old-timers'
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi look like kids again in their semifinal victories.

Davenport surprising even herself
NEW YORK -- Nobody was more shocked by Lindsay Davenport's run to the Open semifinals than Davenport.

Highs and lows

Wells loses two teeth in attack at diner
NEW YORK -- Yankees pitcher David Wells lost two teeth and was punched in the head when he was attacked by a man waving a butter knife at a diner early Saturday, police said.

AL: Mulder stops A's skid at one
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Mulder pitched well enough to get Oakland back on the winning track.

NL: Giants win on final swing again
SAN FRANCISCO -- At 37, Benito Santiago still feels fit enough to catch 18 innings, and he still craves being in the batter's box in a close game.

A-Rod: Let's begin promoting the good
The labor strife now settled, at least one high-profile player believes it's time to focus on something other than luxury taxes, revenue sharing and salaries.

Winners over U.S. compete for gold
INDIANAPOLIS -- The teams that defeated the United States will be the ones competing for the gold medal at the World Championships.

Junior still dominant force in Busch series
RICHMOND, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to the series he once dominated and did it more convincingly than ever Friday night, leading 190 laps and easily winning the Funai 250 NASCAR Busch Grand National race.

Stewart denies assaulting woman after Bristol race
RICHMOND, Va. -- Troubled NASCAR star Tony Stewart refuted a woman's claim that he assaulted her after a race in Tennessee, saying he is "shocked and truly at a loss as to why she made the claim."

Kenseth survives Richmond
Points race tightens after Marlin, Gordon exit Winston Cup race early.

Mustangs boys, girls make strong showings
The boys win the Gator Invitational while the girls finish second.

CCC girls, Largo boys run strong
The Packers finish second and the Marauders third at the Gator Invitational.

Wharton crashes the party
Late additions, the Wildcat girls team runs off with the Gator Invitational title.

Patriots gain little respect
It's supposed to be a new season. Things supposedly have changed. Maybe they have, but the Patriots wouldn't know.

NFL previews
Saints at Bucs

Activated receiver Smith will start for Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE -- The Jaguars activated receiver Jimmy Smith and said he will start today's opener against Indianapolis.

Daily fishing report
Encouraging news for those who like fishing in the bay: On two recent trips, winds and rough seas forced me to fish the bay, and I was rewarded with nice gag grouper weighing as much as 14 pounds.

Sampras: role model for fans and Roddick
I do not diminish or dispute the tennis prowess of Andy Roddick. As a matter of fact, I see him as the next great American star. But (Thursday) night his idol became his teacher. Pete Sampras, a class act, was cool, calm, purposeful and masterful in his triumph over his young opponent. In his overpowering demonstration he not only proved that he still can compete, but that his sportsmanlike demeanor, throughout the match, was that of a professional without the element of braggadocio too often seen in other players. I salute him, and congratulate him, and offer him to those looking for a role model for their own rising hopeful stars of the future.

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