© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2003
Well, at least they had the guts to go out on a limb.
The national media took a good look at the Bucs and Raiders. Some writers and broadcasters played it safe, saying Super Bowl XXXVII would be a good game, a close game, a low-scoring game ...
Some chose Tampa Bay or Oakland but hesitatingly, adding a caveat that would get them off the hook if their selection failed to produce.
And some explained with absolute certainty why one team or the other would take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Some were right, and we applaud their acumen. Just to keep the record straight, though, here are a few of our media cohorts who couldn't imagine the Super Bowl would belong to the Bucs:
Come on, now, people. This isn't that tough. Quit analyzing the backup safeties and get yourself a glimpse of the forest. Raiders rule and for one obvious reason: Rich Gannon doesn't play for the Bucs. ... Watch how many times a Bucs pass rusher gets within a step of him but comes away empty. ... And as a bonus, (Oakland will) even cover.
--Jim Armstrong, Denver Post
Silence, Warren Sapp! Put a champagne cork in Keyshawn Johnson. Turn down the Gruden Mania. This is what dawned on me like sunrise on San Diego Bay: The Raiders will win Super Bowl XXXVII because they want and need it more and they're better equipped psychologically to play up to the game's magnitude.
--Skip Bayless, San Jose Mercury News
Tampa Bay can't run the ball. Robot Rich Gannon never turns over the ball. Oakland is better at offense than Tampa Bay is at defense. And better at defense than Tampa Bay is at offense.
--Dan Le Batard, Miami Herald
Rich Gannon will have enough savvy and guile to find someone deep or short to dump it to. So pick your poison: Charlie Garner short or Jerry Rice intermediate or Jerry Porter deep. ... I'm not saying the Bucs won't make plays on defense. They'll make a bunch. I don't think, however, they'll get the snot-bubble kind of shot on Gannon they need.
--Peter King, Sports Illustrated
It will be the Raiders not because (owner Al) Davis says it will be, but because they have the offense that, of any in the league, can best joust with the Bucs defense.
--Paul Attner, Sporting News
The main story will be those Raiders with Super Bowl rings who will deliver 73-year-old Davis his fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy.
--Dave Newhouse, Oakland Tribune
Rich Gannon is downright scary. He's an automaton. The dude brushes his teeth with one hand and dumps off a pass with the other. No matter what kind of pressure the Bucs bring, Gannon can handle it.
--John Donovan, CNNSI.com
Tampa's offense relies on its defense to score, which is a tough way to capture a Super Bowl. And rest assured, the Raiders will make plays on both sides of the ball.
---Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Daily News
Defense wins championships. Yeah, right. And guys read Playboy for the articles. What 2002 proved is offense is back in vogue in the NFL, and nobody, I mean nobody, has a better offense than the Raiders. ... Sunday is going to be like another home game for the Raiders, and don't be surprised if the Bucs disappear in the makeshift Black Hole.
--Jennifer Floyd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram