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Snub doesn't bug MVP much

By ROGER MILLS, RICK STROUD and Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2003


SAN DIEGO -- Hey, Bucs safety Dexter Jackson, you were just named the Super Bowl MVP. Where are you going?

"I'm going to ... Six Flags in Atlanta!"

Huh?

In a bubbly mood Monday after a night of celebrating his MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXVII, the fourth-year player out of Florida State joked that he was not happy that Disney did not choose him to be grand marshal of its parade in Disneyland. The honor frequently goes to the game MVP but Disney picked quarterback Brad Johnson.

Jackson said he would get over it considering he got a Cadillac Escalade for being named MVP.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Jackson, whose two first-half interceptions helped the Bucs open a 20-3 lead. "I always wanted to hang out with Mickey Mouse and the guys. But I wasn't selected, but that's fine. I can ride by Disneyland in my new Cadillac on my own. So it will be great. I'll just toot my horn when I ride by Disneyland. I'll go to Six Flags or somewhere in Atlanta."

ENOUGH ALREADY: The relationship between Keyshawn Johnson and coach Jon Gruden has been the subject of speculation throughout the season, but Gruden made it clear he plans to have Johnson around for the duration of the receiver's contract.

"He's got a long-term contract," Gruden said. "We had an argument on a Monday night game and everybody thinks he's being traded. I fully expect him to be a Buccaneer throughout the rest of his career."

REMEMBERING DUNGY: As he walked out of the locker room Sunday night, linebacker Derrick Brooks said he had thousands of things swirling through his mind. None more important, he said, than calling former coach Tony Dungy, who is with the Indianapolis Colts.

Brooks said the Bucs owed a lot to Dungy, whose vision of building a team through solid defense proved the foundation for the Super Bowl victory.

"I'm going to call him and thank him as soon as I get back home," Brooks said. "The foundation of this team was put in place when he got here and he can take some piece of this championship. No disrespect to Jon, but he can. Coach Gruden said so himself."

TIME TO HEAL: Receiver Joe Jurevicius had a strong first year with the Bucs and proved toward the end of the season that his big-play capability can be more prominent in the game plan.

But that's next season. Jurevicius said his priority now will be to spend all of his time with newborn son Michael and wife Meagan.

Born a month premature two weeks ago, Michael has been in intensive care with complications. Concern for the baby's health kept Jurevicius away from practices leading to the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. And staying with his son and wife in the hospital, Jurevicius did not join the team in San Diego until Wednesday.

"I would not change what I went through," said Jurevicius, who had four catches for 78 yards Sunday. "My son is going to make it and I learned that about him. My family and wife's family is amazing. What I accomplished (Sunday) is for everybody to enjoy. My son, right now, will have no clue about what's going on. But when I give him this Super Bowl ring as a gift and say, "You're the reason I was able to do it,' there'll be no greater joy for me."

Jurevicius left the locker room with a sprained left pinkie and cuts on his knee but said his bandages don't compare with those Michael has on his body.

"When I get back, I'm going to pull up a bed next to his and we're going to recuperate together," Jurevicius said.

PATIENCE WAS A VIRTUE: Though the Bucs scored three defensive touchdowns, for members of the offense the convincing win over the Raiders was the culmination of a 10-month pilgrimage through ups and downs.

"It took time," said Michael Pittman, who rushed for a season-high 124 yards on 29 carries. "Coach brought different players from different organizations and we were all trying to learn new plays, new teammates. I know the fans kind of got frustrated with us. When we played New Orleans (a 26-20 loss in the opener), we weren't ready, we didn't know the offense that well. At the same time, we kept pursuing, we kept being better and kept believing and trusting the guy next to you."

49ERS INTEREST: One day after Monte Kiffin's No. 1 defense shut down the Raiders, the 49ers began the process of trying to interview the Bucs' 62-year-old defensive coordinator for their vacant head-coaching job.

General manager Rich McKay said he had not had contact with the 49ers, most likely because the Bucs were traveling.

"I expect to (hear from the 49ers) because I've been reading that they want to talk to him," McKay said. "They probably will wait until (today) because they knew we were coming home."

The 49ers interviewed Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel over the weekend and next plan to talk with Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. The Niners have interviewed Jim Mora Jr., their defensive coordinator, and Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

TWO STAY BACK: Brad Johnson and Keyshawn Johnson stayed behind in California. They appeared Monday on NBC's the Tonight Show With Jay Leno in Burbank. Brad also appeared at Disneyland in Anaheim.

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