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Internet

Diary has become big news

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2003

SAN DIEGO -- In a week in which players from both teams filled reams -- no, forests -- of quote sheets and basically said nothing, the really good, no-he-really-didn't-say-that talk leading up to Sunday came the day after media access to players ended.

The third edition of Keyshawn Johnson's daily diary on ESPN.com quickly circulated through the media center Friday, causing an amusing stir.

It's classic Keyshawn, and I'll be thoroughly impressed if the self-imposed media blackout survives the weekend. That Johnson would compare himself with Steve Carlton is almost laughable.

If the Bucs win Sunday and Johnson shuns the cameras and recorders as promised, that will be one of the most impressive stories all week.

There was more to Johnson's musings, though. He lashed out at ESPN guest analyst Shannon Sharpe, who picked the Raiders because he doesn't want Johnson to get a Super Bowl ring, writing that the pick must be "pure jealousy" or that "maybe it's because he looks like a horse."

But Johnson's online diary fun started Wednesday, and the real mistake was not stumbling onto more of his bold statements. He even took jabs at his head coach, and next time he dismisses media talk that he and Jon Gruden aren't best pals, remember the following passage from his diary:

"He's the most competitive coach I've ever had, but he always had to have the last word. ... You think I'm mouthy? I can't even tell you how many times this year I've had to let him get his last little smart-ass comment and then I've just walked away."

In three media sessions this week, Bucs players have shown restraint, taken the high road and lavished their opponents with compliments. Reporters asking the most pointed c'mon-rip-somebody questions have been disarmed with well-rehearsed company-line responses. Gruden's strategy of sedating his players' comments worked against Philadelphia, and Johnson's online venting is a stark exception.

It's a coup for ESPN, and Johnson's last three offerings -- today, on game day and whatever's left after the Super Bowl -- will be eagerly anticipated. Johnson has aspirations to become a TV analyst, and as a master at drawing attention, he already has learned a rule on turning heads: Save your best material for yourself.

DEAR DIARY: Johnson isn't the only Bucs player moonlighting as a journalist. Cornerback Ronde Barber is doing daily video diaries for Superbowl.com, the NFL's official site.

Barber has filed the two-minute clips from his hotel room, from media day and has offered a keen insight into his week that is hard to find anywhere else.

NFL Films is following veteran tackle Lomas Brown for the rest of the week and will have a daily diary with him, including one after the Super Bowl if the Bucs win.

SUPER BOWL TID-BYTES: Local scalpers aren't just coyly asking passersby if they want or have tickets. Several have hired people to wear sandwich-board signs advertising Web sites where the lucrative ducats can be purchased. ... Odd poll results of the week have to come from Buccaneers.com, which asked fans "for whom you'll be happiest" if Tampa Bay wins Sunday. Owner Malcolm Glazer, who opened the pocketbooks to improve the team, drew 49 percent of the votes, nearly more than his players, coach and fans combined. Long-suffering Buccaneers fans got 22 percent and Warren Sapp led Bucs players with 7 percent, just ahead of John Lynch. ... St. Petersburg's Bob Andelman, creator of emailtherays.com, has offered up another site, welovethebucs.com. It invites fans to e-mail in their own celebratory pictures.

-- If you have a question or a comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, e-mail Greg Auman at auman@sptimes. com.

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