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Sports on the air

Area really enjoys its pro football

By JOHN COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003


When looking over the list of, say, the 32 most-watched shows in Tampa Bay since Sept. 5, a theme is evident.

Football.

There's not just some football. It's all football.

The NFL loves its ratings and especially loves its ratings in Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg. Of the top 32 shows, 18 were Bucs games, seven were playoff games not including the Bucs, four were postgame shows, two were pregame shows (including one for a Baltimore-Green Bay game) and one was a regular-season game (Jets-Packers).

The highest-rated non-Bucs game was Sunday's Fox postgame show. Otherwise, Bucs games took up nine of the top 10 spots.

LAST CHANCE: Media access for Bucs players ends today, and viewers can tune in to ESPNNEWS for the final Bucs news conference of the week at 11:30 a.m. today.

SPECIAL: Bay News 9's Touchdown Tampa Bay: Countdown to the Showdown series continues tonight through Saturday.

The series of one-hour specials airs each night at 6 with Rock Riley anchoring live from San Diego.

ONE MORE: ABC has a monster-sized staff working the game (15 people from Al Michaels to 14-year-old reporter Grant Paulsen) but decided one more couldn't hurt. So it added Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.

Seau will provide ABC with intimate knowledge of the Raiders, who his team plays twice a season, as well as giving a more defensive perspective.

The Giants' Michael Strahan was the only defensive player on an ABC team that includes former quarterbacks Steve Young, Dan Fouts, Bob Griese and Joe Theismann.

"With the offensive powerhouses we have involved over there, we wanted to have some balance on the defensive side," pregame producer Curt Gowdy Jr. said.

"And as teams became eliminated, we had a short list of individuals we wanted involved, a very short list."

GOOD NEWS: Every Super Bowl game ABC has done, the NFC team has won: San Francisco (1985, '95), Washington ('88), New York Giants ('91) and St. Louis (2000).

SYNERGY: The combination of ESPN and ABC shouldn't pose a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen problem, according to Chris Berman.

"It actually might be refreshing a little bit. But it's not as if they put us on an airplane and told us to fly it and we don't have a flying license."

LORD OF THE RINGS: The ABC/ESPN crew has eight Super Bowl championships as head coaches or players among it: John Madden (coach, Oakland, Super Bowl XI), Young (San Francisco, XXIII, XXIV and XXIX), Griese (VII and VIII), Theismann (XVII) and Brian Billick (XXXV).

TO THE POINT: Madden hinted who he might be secretly rooting for.

"I know Tampa's players better than Oakland's," he said. "But you are what you are. I mean, I'm a Raider."

ANTI-AL?: Michaels might be rooting for the Bucs if history is any indication.

Ten years ago, Michaels did an interview with Marcus Allen, who accused Raiders owner Al Davis of keeping him on the bench in 1991 and '92 to hurt his free-agent value. Michaels took Allen's side, and the Raiders responded with a news release refuting both viewpoints.

"I did an interview with Marcus 10 years ago, and like you guys, I was looking for a scoop," Michaels said.

"We got a scoop. It was a pretty good interview. They took offense, and it's history."

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