St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

AFC notebook

Middleton still bitter about breakup with Bucs

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Guard Frank Middleton said he'd love to face his former Tampa Bay teammates, and his ex-Oakland coach, Jon Gruden, in the Super Bowl.

But even better, he said Thursday, would be to see the Bucs lose Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

"If I get there and Tampa Bay is there, that's like a welcome plus," Middleton said. "It would not satisfy me more than to play against a team that thought they had "to go a different direction' to get there. I'd love to see that.

"On the other hand, I would love to watch them fail on Sunday and not make it. I don't want them to go all the way."

The Bucs let Middleton leave as a free agent after the 2000 season and, as happy as he claims to be as a Raider, he clearly is still bothered by their decision.

"I don't think the GM (Rich McKay) liked me so he never told me anything," Middleton said. "Tony Dungy called and said he wanted me to stay but other people in the organization had other plans, so they let me go."

Middleton also took a shot at Gruden, claiming his interests in other jobs last season created a distraction for the Raiders.

"It was hard to concentrate on football last year because every week someone had a different story about Gruden -- he's going here, he's going there," Middleton said. "He tried to downplay it a little bit, but you can kind of tell in people's eyes when they're looking forward to something. It kind of made it hard."

The speculation, Middleton said, eventually affected their preparation.

"When you're preparing for games and you have people talking about something else that really doesn't have anything to do with the team, it kind of takes away from the game plan and you kind of worry about it. You worry if everything is what it should be and if everyone is on the same page. So that took a little bit from us."

This year under Bill Callahan, Middleton said they have no such problems.

"We had no distractions," he said. "We know Coach wants to be here and he's going to be here."

AND FURTHERMORE: Gruden also took a hit from receiver Tim Brown, who blasted the Raiders' approach in the 2001 AFC Championship Game they lost to Baltimore.

"I think we had the wrong game plan," Brown said. "We tried to run the ball against (Tony) Siragusa and Sam (Adams) and those guys. That was just insanity at that particular time because of how those guys were playing. We would on first and second down run the ball, then try and throw the ball on third down. That was just insanity."

IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW: For everyone who thought the game will be decided Sunday, Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski, who tends to be a little intense, has some news for you.

"This game is going to be won during the week," he said. "It's going to be won in practice -- how well we practice, how well we take care of details, how well we take care of little things. You win the game on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Sunday is where you go out and have fun."

MEDICAL MATTERS: With heavy snow forcing the Titans to work out indoors, quarterback Steve McNair was held out of drills to keep him off the hard artificial surface. McNair, who injured his right thumb last weekend, threw "with velocity" and reported diminishing soreness, coach Jeff Fisher said. ... The Titans plan to keep defensive end Jevon Kearse out of practice all week to reduce the pain in his left foot, which he fractured in the season opener. ... Oakland tight end Roland Williams (toe, knee) didn't practice.

MISCELLANY: Weather permitting, the Titans will fly west today, and they'll be packed for the Super Bowl, planning to go straight from Oakland to San Diego. ... This is the 11th time since the process began in 1975 the AFC's top seeds will meet for the championship. The home team has won six.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

  • Some Raiders may be old, but so what?
  • Middleton still bitter about breakup with Bucs
  • Del Rio set to coach Jaguars

  • College football
  • McPherson's plans take another twist
  • Seminoles face tough schedule

  • Baseball
  • Owners approve All-Star tie-in to World Series

  • NHL
  • Senators stifle Ducks, barely missing a shutout

  • College basketball
  • UT's play in SSC remains streaky
  • Arizona averts USC's upset bid
  • Arkansas shuts down Florida in 39-point win

  • In brief
  • Kwan edges out strong field in short program

  • NBA
  • Jordan starts strong, lets kids finish Magic

  • Tennis
  • Injured Seles out in second round

  • Sports on the air
  • Local ratings could reach new high

  • Golf
  • Goosen, Perry share Sony lead

  • Preps
  • Slow and easy is better than being out cold
  • Mitchell finishes off Zephyrhills
  • TBT ends jinx at Armwood
  • Brandon coach faces FHSAA investigation
  • Just in the nick of time

  • Outdoors
  • Keller event returns Saturday
  • Target fish that best fit the climate
  • Fishing rods are more than just poles

  • Rays
  • Free-agent 2B will give Rays more options

  • Bucs
  • Football fans appeal to higher power
  • NFL nixes draft picks for coaches
  • Respect alludes Bucs secondary
  • NFC notebook: Jurevicius may miss game for personal reasons
  • Eagles secondary focuses on task, not accolades
  • Sideline: The Dan wasn't exactly The Man
  • Howard Troxler: Philadelphia, N.J.: Iggles, cheese steaks and cheese steak eaters
  • John Romano: A stinking hostile dump

  • Lightning
  • A happy All-Star, he thinks bigger
  • Tonight: Lightning vs. Penguins
  • Instead of sitting, Keefe is sent down

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts