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Keyshawn Johnson denies Serena rumor

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003

TAMPA -- Has Serena Williams met her match? Is it love-love for the sultan of slams and Keyshawn Johnson?

According to published reports, Johnson didn't wait for Valentine's Day, sending Williams 20 dozen roses during the week of the Australian Open. After winning her fourth Grand Slam, Williams is said to have flown to San Diego and taken a helicopter to Qualcomm Stadium in time to see the Bucs defeat the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

They were seen partying later that night at the W Hotel. After the victory celebrations and Super Bowl parade, Johnson joined Williams in Paris, where she won the Gaz De France Open.

Johnson, who filed for divorce from his wife of four years in November, laughed when told of reports he was romantically involved with Williams.

"Unbelievable," he said. "That's not even close to the truth. I swear they make this stuff up. It ain't like that. We're just friends."

BUCS: Garrett Giemont, who worked with coach Jon Gruden in Oakland, was hired as strength and conditioning coordinator. He replaces Johnny Parker, who was fired Wednesday.

NEUHEISEL LIED: Washington Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel interviewed for the 49ers coaching job after all. He said his initial denial was based on a promise of confidentiality.

Neuheisel told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times on Wednesday that he decided to give the real story out of concern for his credibility.

"My knee-jerk reaction was to protect an agreement of confidentially I had with the 49ers," Neuheisel said, "but the life of the story that has followed has raised the question about who I am. It has questioned something more important, my credibility, and that isn't worth it.

"I want to correct the situation and apologize for not being more candid. I will work hard at repairing those relationships I have damaged."

CARDINALS: Running back Damien Anderson, kicker Tim Duncan and defensive back Quentin Harris signed one-year contracts.

LIONS: The Detroit Free Press reported that team executives have been asked to meet in March with commissioner Paul Tagliabue and members of the league's committee on workplace diversity. The Lions, who hired Steve Mariucci as coach, have been criticized for their alleged failure to comply with guidelines that require teams to interview minority candidates as part of a search.

TITANS: Defensive end Jevon Kearse had surgery on his left foot to remove a metal screw from a fracture, transfer bone from his hip into the fracture and insert a new screw into the break. He is expected to return for training camp in July.

VIKINGS: Free-agent running back John Avery, a former first-round pick of the Dolphins, signed.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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