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Super side line

By AMY WIMMER, LENNIE BENNETT and CHRIS SHERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001


Has everyone succumbed to the Super Bowl hoopla?

We did find one person in the bay area resisting the hype. Okay, so the city of St. Pete Beach gave a helicopter pilot special permission to land tonight in order to unload some special cargo: former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason.

But City Manager Carl Schwing drew the line when it came to Esiason's request to push off repeatedly from the Egan Park softball field.

"I thought that was inappropriate," Schwing sniffed. -- AMY WIMMER

Thousands attend gospel extravaganza

As stargazers in the bay area flocked to parties promising celebrity, nearly 5,000 people went to Without Walls International Church in Tampa for another kind of celebration -- the Super Bowl Gospel Extravaganza, a four-day affair that kicked off Thursday with a Kirk Franklin concert.

Among faces in the crowd were Washington Redskins player Deion Sanders, rapper Jay-Z and Los Angeles Dodger Gary Sheffield, whose wife, DeLeon, opened for Franklin. The evening began with concertgoers lifting their hands in prayer as camera crews from the Word Network, a satellite cable channel, poised their cameras to broadcast the event live. Singers from local churches made up a mass choir 200 strong.

Throughout the night, Without Walls provided prayer partners for call-in viewers. "Not only is this the Super Bowl weekend in Tampa, Florida, but we're here to celebrate one thing, and that's Jesus Christ," said DeLeon Sheffield.

The Glazer family, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hosted a party Thursday at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort for fellow franchise owners. A relatively intimate crowd of 200 VIPs dined in the grand ballroom on caviar, smoked salmon and filet mignon. For dessert, the kitchen whipped up its version of a family favorite, a triple-layer brownie with ice cream. -- LENNIE BENNETT

Maryland ready for food fight

Digs from New York chefs and TV hosts that Maryland cooks only with Old Bay Seasoning irritate gourmet chef Nancy Longo, a Ravens fan and Baltimore native. Longo's upscale Pierpoint restaurant will represent the Ravens and defend hometown culinary honor in the Taste of the NFL party for 3,000 Saturday.

She will have crab and corn -- for nifty crab cake wontons with a sauce of Silver Queen corn, sherry and cilantro -- and plenty of Old Bay. She uses a little in her cooking. ("You can't make crab cakes without it.") But she's bringing it to Tampa as a display of pride.

McCormick & Co., the Baltimore spice merchant, has sent her caseloads of the stuff. "We're going to use them like Legos," Longo said this week, building tables and "surprise" sculptures out of Old Bay cans for Saturday night's party.

She's staying for the game, but with regret -- "I'll miss being here (Baltimore) to see all the craziness when they win." -- CHRIS SHERMAN

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