By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 15, 2001
ESPN analyst/Swami Chris Berman calls himself a "good Gulf Coast guy" and says he has a piece of concrete and part of an aluminum bench from the old Tampa Stadium (nicknamed the Big Sombrero by Berman) in his office. He shared his thoughts on Sunday's championship games and the Super Bowl with Times staffer Sharon Ginn:
Trent Dilfer coming back to Tampa: What a story. The Baltimore Ravens are the Tampa Bay Bucs. They play defense like Tampa, share the same philosophy: "We can win low-scoring games." The Tampa fans who have come to appreciate outstanding defense will be very much at home watching the Baltimore Ravens with Trent Dilfer at quarterback.
The Bucs aren't there, but a facsimile of them is.
Tampa already has lined up (1990 Giants MVP and coach) Ottis Anderson and Bill Parcells for the coin flip, so now here come the Giants. This Giants team is pretty similar to that one. No one would say Jeff Hostetler was a great quarterback, but he was a very good one and very efficient, and Kerry Collins actually has played better than that, at least today. They have a little running back in Tiki Barber, who is like the man who is going to flip the coin. Their receivers are a little better. No one is reminiscent of Lawrence Taylor, but (defensive end) Michael Strahan is like Leonard Marshall, (linebacker) Jessie Armstead is a player like Carl Banks ... we could go on and on. All we're missing is Whitney Houston.
Baltimore has won 10 in a row. The Giants have won seven in a row. They aren't here by accident. They are here by surprise.
I don't see anybody getting much over 13 or 16 points in this game. There will be more scoring off defense and special teams than there will be off the offense. Minnesota and Oakland could have been a shootout. This way the pirate ship won't fire as many cannons.
(Minnesota coach) Dennis Green is shocked that his defense is this bad. You must come to the playoffs with something; whatever your strong suit is, you have to come with some defense. Minnesota had none, apparently. Like the Rams had none. And they're both gone.
So Dennis, who has made the playoffs eight out of nine years, knows he's going to have to start drafting entirely defensive players.
You can't belittle what Trent Dilfer has done. His statistics aren't that good, but guess what: Everybody with the good statistics is at home. I think Trent will marvel at the irony of his return to Tampa, but he won't be saying I told you so. Kerry Collins and Trent are No. 1 picks who are very nice resurrection stories.
This big of a performance (by Collins) came out of nowhere, but the Giants have been improving every week. It's kind of fun, and Kerry is kind of going right along.
The Ravens are slight favorites because of their defense. They've hammered their point home: If you don't believe we're good enough to do this, here it is again. The Giants had to make you believers, but then again, we didn't realize Minnesota was that bad on defense. I'm 2-8 in the playoffs, so I'm picking Buffalo. I'm still going with Buffalo.