St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
St. Petesburg Times
Super Bowl XXXV Tampa, Florida 2001
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Game time: 6 p.m.
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  • The Road to Super Bowl XXXV

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    Imagine that, QBs throw hard

    [Times photos: James Borchuck]
    Tampa's Kailey and Melissa Hall, left, Mike and Michael Moriarty and Tarpon Springs' Toni DeCroce cheer as the Giants reach their hotel.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 22, 2001

    Giants running back Tiki Barber stops videotaping to wave as he and his teammates deplane at Tampa International Airport.
    TAMPA -- Two of the area's top high school quarterbacks -- Clearwater Central Catholic's Jay Davis and Armwood's Ron Buskey -- made their names known at this weekend's NFL Experience.

    A sign outside the Punt, Pass and Kick competition displayed names of those who threw the ball the farthest from the thousands who participated. At the top were Davis and Buskey, who were chosen as first- and second-teamers on last season's Times' All-Suncoast teams. Each threw 50 yards.

    "The ball was a little wet, but I got off a pretty good throw," said Davis, who threw for 2,815 yards and 26 touchdowns and has committed to N.C. State. "I came by later and said, 'Hey, Ron Buskey's name is up there with mine.' "

    Buskey, considering several Division I offers, led Armwood into the fourth round of the state playoffs and threw for 2,104 yards and 21 touchdowns in the regular season.

    Inspiring cheerleaders to aim for greatness

    More than 1,000 local cheerleaders (ages 5-12) met on a 50-square-yard patch of artificial turf at the NFL Experience on Sunday.

    The girls heard motivational talks from four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans, USA Today sportswriter Jill Lieber and University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft.

    By the numbers
    • How Baltimore shapes up against New York: A tale of two cities
    They also practiced cheers with Bucs and Jacksonville Jaguars' cheerleaders, learned football fundamentals from Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and got some insight from NFL referee Frank Glover.

    Evans brought a gold medal and told the girls, "I always wanted to be a cheerleader growing up, but I had to make a choice between doing something like cheerleading and swimming. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and that's the choice I made.

    "You girls can do anything you want if you put your mind to it, whether that involves cheerleading or not."

    Cold temperature, short sleeves, must be a Packer . . . right?

    Another day of cool temperatures had the kids and many players bundling up at the Super Bowl Youth Clinic at Legends Field.

    Well, except for Matt Hasselbeck of the Green Bay Packers.

    Better known as Brett Favre's backup, Hasselbeck was the only player at the clinic in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. He joked that he was merely doing what the Packers do when they play the Buccaneers.

    "I wanted to show the boys from Tampa, so they remember, that this cold weather doesn't affect us (Packers)," Hasselbeck said. "It's mind games. We're playing them all the time."

    Hasselbeck ran one of the stations at the clinic. Most kids in his first group made it clear they were Bucs fans, and one even sounded as if he was playing some mind games of his own, shouting: "Do you play?"

    Hasselbeck answered, "I back up Brett Favre ... but he never gets injured."

    If you're breathing easier your nose will know

    If it seemed like 5,000 people were wearing nose strips (like San Francisco's Jerry Rice) at the NFL Experience it's because nearly 5,000 people were.

    "We gave away every nose strip that we had on both days," said Breathe Right marketing manager Mari Mallicote. "When people put on the strips, I think they are surprised at how well it opens up the nasal passages."

    Were all these nose-strip wearing people participating in the interactive games? Definitely not. Many were parents watching kids catch passes or booting balls. Several beer-drinkers also were spotted donning strips.

    "It's just for anybody who wants to breathe easier," Mallicote said. "You don't have to be playing football to wear them. You can put one on any time your nose is stuffy."

    She's not kidding. A first-hand test of the nose strip opened up nasal passages.

    A pack of 10 to 12 (depending on the type) costs $4.99. Packs of 30 are $10.99. Samples free at the NFL Experience.

    Many children running, injury bound to happen

    It didn't take long for the day's first injury at the youth clinic to occur. About 15 minutes into the first round of activities at the passing station, Jihad Cunningham was knocked out for the day.

    Cunningham, a 12-year-old student at Roland Park Middle School, dislocated his left thumb. He was running with the football during a relay and slipped on what he said was wet grass. He finished the drill, "but when I got back to the line it was really hurting."

    He was taken to a first-aid center and the thumb was popped back in and placed in a cardboard splint.

    "I thought it was going to hurt hurt, but it didn't hurt," Cunningham said.

    Cunningham said he wanted to stay and finish the clinic as a spectator (the kids had their shirts autographed at each station), though he was told he'd need to go to the hospital afterward.

    It’s someone famous, but I don’t know who

    Former Florida State and current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Danny Kanell was roaming around the clinic, microphone in hand, doing interviews for the Super Bowl Channel. His interviews will be broadcast at hotels throughout Tampa.

    "I did this last year, too," said Kanell, who talked with players and some clinic participants. "It's fun. This is a good experience."

    Kanell also has done features at area restaurants such as Bern's Steak House and Columbia Restaurant, "to show people some of the sites in Tampa."

    Stasi Miller, 12, and sister Val, 10, were the first kids Kanell interviewed.

    "I didn't know who he was," said Stasi, a student at Pine View Middle School in Land O'Lakes. "I just thought he was from the news. It was a neat experience."

    I don’t care who you are, just sign this, please

    People waited hours in lines at the Autograph Stage, and although several said they didn't know who was signing on the stage 50 feet in front of them, it didn't matter.

    "I'm just holding my place for my husband," Palm Harbor's Linda Patterson said Saturday afternoon. "I think it's worth it because it means a lot to my husband. He's a huge Bucs fan."

    Some of the autograph signers included Bucs Martin Gramatica, John Lynch, Damien Robinson, Steve White, former Buccaneer Brad Culpepper and Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius.

    - Compiled by John C. Cotey, Scott Purks and Babita Persaud.

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