By KATHRYN WEXLER, ROGER MILLS, BRIAN LANDMAN and JOHN C. COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001
TAMPA -- Nude dance club owner Joe Redner apologized Wednesday to the NFL, the Ravens, the Giants and the "many fans and guests coming to Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV."
No, Redner, the proud purveyor of illegal lap dances at his club Mons Venus, hasn't sworn off nudity.
He says he's just worried about the city's image. Redner's flurry of faxes was an apology for Tampa's efforts to stifle lap dances.
The ordinance passed by Tampa's City Council a year ago that requires nude and seminude dancers stay 6 feet from customers or risk arrest is giving Tampa a bad reputation, Redner alleged in his fax. The police who enforce it aren't doing the city a favor either, Redner said.
What city wants to be known as a killjoy, Redner offered.
" ... it is our sincerest hope that this adversity does not lessen the possibility of future Super Bowls being brought to the Tampa Bay area," he wrote.
"Please enjoy the many wonderful attributes that the Tampa Bay area has to offer and put aside any negative reaction that this controversy may have created. Above all, enjoy yourselves and have a good time."
Kevin Reed, MacDill operations manager, got just the crowd the NFL told him to expect for Wednesday's NFL Players Super Shootout at the Bay Palms Golf Complex at MacDill Air Force Base: about 18,000 fans, he estimates, the largest ever at the courses.
Despite being prepared, tournament organizers couldn't prevent long lines of cars trying to get in.
"We had some little problems getting through gates because of the high ranking military members that may have been there," Reed said.
Those fans were treated to some good and bad golf -- the good coming mostly from two groups, with Miami's Lamar Thomas, Denver's Terrell Buckley, Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt and Billy Joe Hobert; the bad from an unidentified player in Denver Bronco Ray Crockett's group who hit a nasty hook that could have done damage to fans watching from a patio had a short, white picket fence not saved the day.
Fans also got to watch a long driving contest in which the players donned flak jackets and head gear and hit drives off an 8x8 stage.
"That was just to make it fun because it was an Air Force base they were playing on," Reed said.
It was the first time a tournament had been held on both courses simultaneously.
Buckley and Thomas played with George Loesch, Andy Steele, Bob Gilbert and Steve Petty, and the group finished tied for the lead at 14-under 58.
Vanderjagt, Hobert, Rick Ploor, Jerry Stone and David and Bob Frye also shot 58.
Though the south course (Bay) had bigger names than the north (Palms), both were packed with autograph seekers walking from hole to hole with footballs, posters, hats and shirts.
"The fans had access to all but three holes," Reed said. "The NFL players were more than gracious. It was very impressive to see these guys come out and take the time to show appreciation to the fans. I sat there and saw Herschel Walker sign probably 40-50 autographs on one hole."
On the other hand, Reed confirmed that Buc Warren Sapp stormed off without finishing his round after some kind of dispute with some fans looking for autographs. Reed didn't know what caused Sapp to blow up.
"I just think it was Warren Sapp being Warren Sapp," Reed said. "Someone wanted an autograph and he wasn't out there to do that, I guess. He's just trying to keep his image."
He missed two games with a knee injury, but still set an NFL record with 26 touchdowns (18 rushing and eight receiving) in 2000.
That, along with 2,189 yards from scrimmage and two games with more than 200 yards rushing, earned Rams running back Marshall Faulk the 2000 NFL Player of the Year award.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue presented the award, which came with a $30,000 donation to the Marshall Faulk Foundation.
Faulk donated $10,000 of that money to the Derrick Thomas Foundation, in memory of the late Chiefs linebacker who died after a car accident roughly a year ago.
Faulk said Thomas inspired him early in his career.
The award was voted on by a media panel and tabulated after compiling player of the week award winners throughout the season.
Hall of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones is on a tear these days.
Throughout the season, Jones travels to NFL cities spreading the word about high blood pressure, which affects nearly 50-million Americans.
Tampa Mayor Dick Greco declared Jan. 24 as Hypertension Awareness Day.
"It's started out as something personal for me," Jones said. "I discovered after I stopped playing ball that I had high blood pressure.
"After you have it, you have to make some changes in your life and I didn't think that I was capable of doing that, but I did.
"When you understand high blood pressure and you understand how people are negligent with it and how many people are walking around with it and don't know they have it, it's frightening. I didn't realize until I got involved with this program how many blacks have it."
Jones takes one dose daily of Atacand, a fairly new drug, and changed his diet, dropping about 60 pounds to get down to 250.
"We reach a lot of people," he said.
Denver quarterback Brian Griese won the All-Heart Performance of the Year Award, an honor created this year as part of the NFL's campaign to raise awareness about high cholesterol and heart disease.
"This is a great opportunity for myself and all the guys to give back to our communities," Griese said of encouraging people to have a screen test. "I had a test done yesterday for the first time in my life and, while I'm under the limit and I don't smoke, I can work on it."
Fans and a media panel voted for the winner among the weekly winners, which included Bucs running back Warrick Dunn and runner-up Aaron Brooks, Saints quarterback.
Griese was recognized for his gutsy effort against Oakland in Week 11, shrugging off a shoulder separation to lead his team to a 27-24 win. Hall of Fame finalist Bill Parcells presented the award.
"I am a heart disease survivor," Parcells said. "I am living proof that you can change your lifestyle for the better."