tampabay.com

Leading off

By TOM JONES
Published September 24, 2006


Kickers, punters and quarterbacks out of work do three things: work out, scan the morning newspaper for injuries and bad games, and make more calls than a credit card solicitor.

For example, when Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was hobbled by a groin injury, Colts coach Tony Dungy was flooded with calls from out-of-work kickers, including 106-year-old Morten Andersen, who signed last week with the Falcons, and former Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica, who was expected to win the temp job filling in for Vinatieri.

Dungy is used to it, but even he was surprised when a blast from the past came knocking. Remember L.C. Greenwood, the old Steelers defensive end who wore the big yellow shoes? Last month when the Colts played a preseason game in Jackson, Miss., the 60-year-old Greenwood approached his old Steelers teammate.

"He was talking about designated pass rushers," Dungy told the Associated Press. "He said, 'I can make a million dollars, and I don't have to play the run now. They call it designated rusher. I can do that. I can give you six pass rushes.' "

Go ahead and laugh. If the Bucs give up 300 yards rushing today, coach Jon Gruden will put Mean Joe Greene on his speed dial.

DOPE OF THE WEEK

Get a load of Lions receiver Roy Williams. First, he had a straight face when he said, "It was stupid how close we were to putting 40 points on the board" against Seattle on Sept. 10 - after a 9-6 loss!

Then he guaranteed a victory against Chicago before the Lions were blown out 34-7 last week. In that near-victory, Williams jumped up and down and pointed after converting for a first down when the Lions were trailing 10-0.

"I celebrate first downs all the time," Williams explained. "I'm not going to stop that. I'm an exciting player. If I do something exciting, I'm going to show my actions."

"But," a reporter said, "you were down 10-0."

Williams snapped back: "What does that mean? That means nothing to me. The score means nothing."

And with that, your honor, the defense rests.

THREE THINGS WE CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF

1. Joe Torre. Okay, we're convinced. He's the best in the biz.

2. Delmon Young. Despite his off-field history, the guy can flat-out play.

3. That every time Chris Simms has a ball batted down, the camera turns to Coach Gruden.

THREE THINGS WE'RE TIRED OF

1. Whining Oklahoma fans. Yeah, you got hosed. Get over it already. You weren't going undefeated anyway.

2. Pavel Kubina. Former Bolts defenseman criticizes Tampa Bay for caring about football and nothing else. He said the only time the Lightning made the front page of the sports section was when won it won the Stanley Cup. That's simply not true, Kuby.

3. The Lightning's shabby treatment of goalie Sean Burke.

OTHER VOICES

The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, writing about how Yankees slugger Jason Giambi was quoted heavily in a Sports Illustrated article regarding Alex Rodriguez's difficult season:

"Alex doesn't know who he is," Giambi said. "We're going to find out who he is in the next couple of months."

Alex Rodriguez doesn't know who he is? Really, Giambi, huh? Well, he knows who he isn't, and that's a fraud who souped up his body on steroids and HGH. A-Rod knows that he never shot himself up like a junkie, turning his ordinary, spray-hitting swing into a slugger's stroke.

No, A-Rod is not that guy.

Maybe you don't like A-Rod's contract, but you have to respect the way he earned his $252-million a lot more - infinitely more - than the way Giambi turned his body into a Mr. Potato Head figurine to get his $120-million score with the Yankees.