Defensive trio tops All-Pros
Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp are Tampa Bay's first-team representatives.
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2003
TAMPA -- They can hire an offensive guru as head coach, sign free-agent receivers, tight ends and a running back, or set the record for the most wins in team history.
But defense defines the Bucs and three members of that No. 1 unit were named to the Associated Press NFL All-Pro first team Saturday.
Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks and defensive end Simeon Rice joined 13 first-time choices to the team, selected by a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
Brooks, who received one vote for the league's Most Valuable Player, had perhaps his best season and was named to the first team for the third time in four years.
"As always, I'm very grateful to be considered one of the best at my position," Brooks said. "It is a tremendous honor and just a signal of how well we played as a team this season, especially on defense."
Not only did Brooks set a career high with five interceptions, he had four returns of turnovers for touchdowns, one shy of the league record held by Ken Houston. His three interception returns are the most by a linebacker in a season in league history.
Rice, who figures to be a candidate, along with Brooks, for defensive player of the year, had 15.5 sacks, one shy of the team record.
Sapp, who had 7.5 sacks through the first eight games but none in the final eight, was named to the first team for the fourth straight year.
Two other Bucs defenders, safety John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber, were named second-team All-Pro. This is Lynch's fourth overall selection. He was first-team All-Pro in '99 and 2000.
Barber, snubbed for the Pro Bowl, was a first-team All-Pro last season.
The Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders each had four players named first-team All-Pro. The Bucs were second.
Colts receiver Marvin Harrison was the only unanimous selection to the team, chosen by a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league.
The team featured 13 first-time choices, including Giants rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey.
Veteran safety Rod Woodson of Oakland made the team for the sixth time, and at the third different position (once as kick returner and four times as a cornerback).
Also, starting lineups for the 2003 Pro Bowl were announced at halftime of the AFC and NFC wild-card games.
Sapp, Rice, Brooks, Lynch and fullback Mike Alstott will start. The Bucs have the most starters of any team.
Three Oakland veterans, including league MVP Rich Gannon, will start for the AFC. There also will be three starters from the Chiefs and Dolphins.
-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.
Back to the Bucs
BucsDefensive trio tops All-Pros
Surprised Bucs start new plan
Could Bucs and Parcells work a trade?
RaysDaulton again faces DUI charge
Rays calling this a produce market
LightningLightning comes up short against Blues
Sarich keeps eye on youngsters
Hubert Mizell: Overpaid ... underworked?
Falcons pack wallop
Jets fly on; Dungy grounded again
Jets won't stop until job is done
Familiarity feels right to Browns
Talk heats up between rivals, or not
With TD, Favre in top group
Turnabout is rich for Giants DE
Fassel takes charge in playoff run
Grossman will leave Florida to enter draft
Fiesta Bowl simply stunning
McGahee will return after surgery on knee
Season on the bubble
SIU 74, Illinois State 65
Defending champ pulls out of Australian Open
Belfour makes 50 saves to carry Leafs
Undefeated LSU beats Texas for 2nd time in 8 days
UConn women's streak lives after OT victory
1st game in UM's new home is a win
No. 1 Alabama rebounds with 65-58 victory
Pickett leads FSU in easy win over Virginia Tech 76-69
Oklahoma State's D controls BYU 78-65
KL Bahama Boyd takes inside track to run away at Inaugural
Frayer's Olympic dream comes with a price tag
Husband, wife shine in debut
UNF student wins despite his wrong turn
Organizers exceed goal of 10,000 participants
Nets toe the line to top Magic
Gaither's title bid falls short
Wharton can't keep pace
Comeback Vikings edge Patriots
Clearwater impressive against nation's best
Panthers, Pirates enjoy wins
Daily fishing report
Cold winds haven't stoppedhot bites around many piers
Glazers need to be grounded