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By MARC TOPKIN, PETE YOUNG, KEVIN KELLY and Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001
Disney may balk if Ray Lewis is MVP
TAMPA -- If Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is named Super Bowl MVP, do you think he will be invited to Disney World?
Don't count on it.
Lewis' involvement in two stabbing deaths after last year's game in Atlanta has been the talk of the town this week. He probably is not what Disney, the world's second-largest media company, wants associated with commercials that seek to attract more children to its theme parks, said David Fishof, agent for former Giants quarterback Phil Simms. Simms was paid $75,000 to appear in the first "What's Next?" promotion for Disney.
"There's no way Disney, with its squeaky-clean image, is going to let Ray Lewis do this," Fishof said.
"It's always been based on the player who is noteworthy for his achievement on the field, based on stats, and the hero of the game," said Rick Sylvain, spokesman for Disney's Super Bowl promotion. "But we're not going to get any deeper into the selection process."
Disney's "What's Next?" promotion has run after every NFL title game since 1987.
Ravens owner Art Modell was asked how he has survived a number of physical ailments and the stress from the controversial move to Baltimore. "Faith," he said, "and belief in the High Commissioner. And I don't mean (NFL boss Paul) Tagliabue. I mean higher than that. The High Commissioner."
Sting like a bee
Stretched out in a seat about 25 rows above the field, Ravens rookie tight end John Jones was just excited to take in the media day scene. He, like at least a dozen other players, had his own video camera to record the action. His view?
"Frantic," Jones said. "There so many people wanting interviews and stepping over each other."
Jones was keeping track of which Ravens star had attracted the largest crowd of reporters. "Ray (Lewis), he's the big guy," Jones said. "Trent (Dilfer) is coming in a strong second. And Shannon (Sharpe) is hot on his trail. Shannon, he's like Ali. He's always got something to say, and he loves the attention."
Credit receiver Qadry Ismail for his opportunistic nature. With several thousand of the world sports media gathered, Ismail launched his campaign for accuracy -- regarding the spelling and pronunciation of his name.
Ismail hand-lettered a sign and kept it on display through the session:
"There is no "u' in my name. Cod-ree. Iss (as in hiss). My. El (as in Elmer).
"With all the media being here, they might as well get it right," Ismail said.
Music in their soul
It seemed to be the music that mattered to the Ravens.
At one point during their media day session, Tony Siragusa was singing Sinatra's Summer Wind. Michael McCrary performed his version of Hail to the Ravens.
And then there was the song -- we use the word loosely -- from a group of players gathered around BET network Madd Sports host Joe Clair.
Modell, fresh off a hot day of media interviews, found a way to cool his heels. He was a guest of the Lightning and watched Tuesday night's game against the Capitals at the Ice Palace from the owner's suite.
Today's Super Bowl story lineup