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Quick kicks


Bittersweet

From nowhere, and everywhere, comes a star
[Gary Shelton]

Up close and personal with Warrick Dunn

Vermeil sees some truth in Sapp slam

Sapp comes up lame but should go Sunday

Marcum: Stopping Warner will be tough

Quick kicks

COMPILED BY JOHN COTEY AND SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2000


BUCSCHAT: "Last Saturday I was looking for a Bucs ticket for a friend, because he was the only one in the group without one. Suddenly, Brian Glazer came up and handed my friend a club level seat on the 50-yard line for free. This was an unbelievable gesture made by this ownership that has provided this community with a winner on and off the field. The class of this organization starts with the coaches and players and makes its way to the ownership. I could just see Hugh Culverhouse rolling in his grave seeing something done for the fans."
-- Ryan Halsteadvia e-mail

BUCSCHATBACK: "For some reason, I have no idea why, I get
White
mistaken for Chidi (Ahanotu) or Marcus (Jones), simply because of the hair (dreadlocks). But even before that, before I grew my hair, I was mistaken for Chidi, Marcus and sometimes when Regan (Upshaw) was here. You know what's funny is when (fans) run up and ask for an autograph . . . as I'm signing they'll be like, "Thanks Mr. Ahanotu' or "Thanks Mr. Jones.' . . . What's really funny is when they don't believe you are who you are. They'll say, "Oh come on, Mr. Ahanotu, you can sign.' "
-- DE Steve White, on getting recognized

WHO AM I? I just might be the Bucs' best athlete. In high school at Langham Creek (Texas), I was a second-team USA Today All-American as a quarterback, and I also played baseball well enough to get drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. I originally enrolled at UCLA but later transferred to Rice, where I threw for 3,079 yards and 23 touchdowns while running for 1,156 yards and 11 more scores. And I was drafted again as a baseball player, this time by the Pittsburgh Pirates. I stuck with football, was drafted in the second round and was moved to wide receiver, where I have caught over 300 passes for 27 touchdowns. Who am I? Click for answer

WEB SITE OF THE DAY: www.ramsworld.com
Man, these fans are brutal. They run down Shaun King as some overachieving quarterback, crack on Mike Alstott's ability to convert third and 1s and dress down the Bucs offense. They are predicting a rout despite the Bucs defense, which they say will be shredded by the mighty Rams offense. Yes, these are St. Louis fans, who are frothing at the mouth since their team has risen from the ashes of last place. Of course, far be it for us to suggest any Bucs fans crash the party to dispute some of these "facts" about the "weak and helpless" Bucs. That would be a petty gesture on our part to encourage anyone to go to www.ramsworld.com and talk trash to the Rams fans, to go to www.ramsworld.com and read all the Rams propaganda floating around in cyberspace, to go to www.ramsworld.com and show Rams fans what's up at 9 p.m. Saturday when they hold their pregame chat room rally. That's just not our style.

BUCS e-BAY ITEM OF THE DAY: We're feeling a bit nostalgic, so forgive us. But how cool would it be to own a Sports Illustrated dated Oct. 1, 1979, with Dewey Selmon (that's Lee Roy's brother) on the cover? If you think that's cool (and we do), how about this: He is tackling a Los Angeles Ram in a great picture taken from the Bucs' 21-6 regular-season win that season. The headline on the magazine reads "Tampa Bay: Unbeaten, Untied and Unbelievable." Bidding currently is at $1, not a bad price for a nice little keepsake. The item number is 239471021. Other dandy throwback items are the Topps 1976 Bucs team set (238637483) and a 1979 Ricky Bell Topps Rookie card (237784409). All these items are at www.ebay.com. Just click on search and enter the item number.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "Simply, the Rams have an offense that can score points; Tampa Bay doesn't. St. Louis brings a ton of speed. As fast as Tampa Bay is defensively, the Bucs will have problems on the turf. The turf favors Warrick Dunn, but not Mike Alstott.

Theismann
"The Bucs have no weapons to score points. Their receivers aren't big or terribly fast, and their quarterback is a rookie. The Bucs won't win by scoring 14 points like last week. If they do, I would be totally shocked. If the Bucs ever got an offense, they could well be the next dynasty in football.

"This is as big a mismatch as I have seen in playoff competition for a long time. I would expect the Rams to win by a fair amount. If the Bucs win, it should be considered one of the greatest upsets in playoff history. Warner could throw three or four interceptions in the game. But unless they are run back for touchdowns, St. Louis still won't be hurt."
-- ESPN analyst Joe Theismann

BUCS TRIVIA: 1) Who was Dallas' leading scorer in their 38-0 and 30-17 playoff wins over Tampa Bay in '82 and '83?

2) Who caught Trent Dilfer's only career playoff touchdown pass? Trivia Answers

OBSCURE BUC OF THE DAY: Morris Unutoa, center.

You can't get any more obscure than being a long snapper in the NFL, unless, of course, you happen to be Washington's Dan Turk and roll the snap to the placekicker on a game-winning field-goal attempt in a playoff game.

Nothing like that for Unutoa, who has been steady and mistake-free since signing with the Bucs Oct. 15 after his release from Philadelphia.

The Bucs long snapper is a four-year veteran. He was signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent in 1996 and made the roster, playing in all 16 games and one post-season contest, a 14-0 loss to San Francisco. In fact, Unutoa went on to play all 48 games in his three seasons at Philadelphia, doing the long snapping and contributing on kick coverage. Last year, he had a career-high eight tackles on special teams.

Unutoa was an honorable mention All-Western Athletic Conference pick at center for Brigham Young after a prep career that included a state championship for Carson (Calif.) High School and second-team status on USA Today's All-America team.

INSIDE THE GAME: The 46? How about the 47!

Remember the 46 defense the Bears used in 1985? Remember all the attention Buddy Ryan got for it? According to Bucs assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Herman Edwards, that defense was no different than the one he played in at San Jose State. "Only we called it Spartan."

It was called the 46 because Bears safety Doug Plank wore No. 46, and he often would drift toward the line of scrimmage before the snap to play the run.

"That's all it was," Edwards said.

The Bucs could call it the 47, the number John Lynch wears, and they play almost the same defense. Lynch is this era's Plank and often serves the same role. He is one of the most versatile safeties in football, with the ability to cover a receiver or come up and stuff the run.

The improved play of the Bucs corners allows Lynch the freedom to do so.

"It's hard to block and hard to run against," Edwards said. "You can do that when you've got good corners."

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Dewey Selmon said he wouldn't trade one memory of playing linebacker for the Bucs, not even when he seriously wondered if they would ever win.

"After we lost the first five or six games into our second season it really started getting hard to live with," Selmon said of Tampa Bay's 0-26 start. "I even remember my sister-in-law calling us the Tampa Bay "Bugs.' When your own family starts calling you the Bugs, you know it has to be awful."

Selmon chuckled. And why not? His memories also include the 1979 season, when the Bugs went from worst to first, going 10-6 and winning the NFC Central title.

"We were like a guy on his death bed who suddenly came back to life," said Selmon, brother of Hall of Famer Lee Roy. "I can't begin to describe to you that feeling. It was like a miracle.

"But you see, we wouldn't have had that much of an amazing feeling if we hadn't gone through all those losses.

"I look at those years as a rare opportunity to do a lot of growing in a short period of time. We experienced more in those three years than most players experience in an entire career. And for that I'm thankful. Those years made us men."

Dewey Selmon, taken in the second round of the '76 expansion draft, stayed with the Bucs through the 1980 season before going to San Diego for one more year.

After that he went to Norman, Okla. (110 miles east of Euphaula where he grew up) and started a construction business, Selmon Enterprises, which he still runs.

His daughters, Shannon and Megan, are on basketball scholarships at Oklahoma and Trinity University in San Antonio, respectively. His other daughter, Lauren, and son Zachary attend Norman High.

As for the Bucs, Selmon said he avidly follows their progress and still considers Tampa Bay "my team."

"I think this year's team was lot like ours in '79," he said. "This team is talented but they are also hungry. And that hunger is something that can make a team very tough to beat."

BUCS BANDWAGON: Still trying to prove the intensity of your fandom? We'll keep feeding you the factoids:

"Did you notice that the Rams had five players with five or more touchdown receptions this season? Dave Moore, the Bucs' LEADER in TD catches, had five Isaac Bruce and Az-zahir Hakim combined for 20; the Bucs as a team had 18. Talk about lopsided."

WHO AM I ANSWER: Bert Emanuel

TRIVIA ANSWERS: 1) Placekicker Rafael Septien, who kicked four field goals and eight extra points for 20 points. 2) Horace Copeland, a 9-yarder that gave the Bucs a 10-0 lead over Detroit in the 1997 wild-card playoff game.

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