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Barbers draw tough matchup

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


Ronde Barber had good news and bad news this week.

The fourth-year Buccaneers defensive back shares a Web site, nfltwins.com, with his twin brother Tiki, a running back with the New York Giants. The site was honored by ESPN The Magazine as one of 16 finalists for its Internet Athlete of the Year award, given to the sports figure with the best Web site. The finalists are being pared to eight by online voting: Each day, fans visiting ESPN.com can choose between two sites.

The bad news? Beginning today, the Barbers have the difficult challenge of going up against the Web site of tennis' Anna Kournikova, arguably the most popular woman on the Internet.

"There's no way," Barber said this week as he prepared to report for training camp Sunday. "People are going to click on her site just to see her pretty face. Me and Tiki, we're pretty ugly."

Barber said his brother introduced him to the Internet while they were at the University of Virginia. The two teamed up for their own site last year, and it's been mentioned since in Sports Illustrated and at twinstuff.com, a site devoted to all things twins. Asked which brother is more Web-savvy, Ronde had to praise his former womb-mate.

"He's everything-savvy," said Barber, who answers questions e-mailed to his site each week during the season. "The Web's just one of his ventures. He got me started with the site, and we do a lot with it together."

Even their combined efforts will be hard-pressed to upset Kournikova, who has dozens of adoring tribute sites. Yahoo.com lists 38 for her on its links page, but the Barbers are up against just one: annakshrine.com, whose main headline Thursday read "Wimbledon -- Over Already." There are lots of pictures, as well as a transcript of Kournikova's appearance on The Tonight Show.

If Barber can somehow defeat Kournikova, he won't be the only Buccaneer left in the round of eight. Warren Sapp, whose site (big99.com) is produced by the same company as Barber's, earned 68.3 percent of the voting in his first-round meeting with figure skater Tara Lipinski. Sapp will face Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire when the quarterfinals begin next week.

LIVECAST: For those who can't wait for high school football season to begin Sept. 1, FoxSports.com obliges with a live Webcast of the inaugural CaliFlorida Bowl, featuring the best players from California and Florida, at 10 p.m. Saturday from the Rose Bowl.

The Florida roster includes three players from Hillsborough High, including defensive back Cedric Edmonds, who has committed to Syracuse. The two states will square off again in a post-season meeting Dec. 23 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

CHATWATCH: ESPN football analyst Joe Theismann will chat on CNNSI.com at 1:30 p.m. Monday. ... Kournikova chats at 7 p.m. today at clubs.lycos.com/live. ... ESPN.com has many of the network's outdoors personalities scheduled for chats during this weekend's Great Outdoors Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Bass fishing analyst Jerry McKinnis checks in at 2 p.m. Saturday. For more, check out greatoutdoorgames.com.

TID-BYTES: The WNBA is holding a charity auction online to benefit the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations. Among the items are season tickets and autographed basketballs for each team, plus chances to play HORSE with WNBA players. Bidding has reached four figures on some showdowns. Auctions close this afternoon at auctions.yahoo.com ... The sanctioning Olympic bodies have sent cease-and-desist letters to owners of more than 1,800 domain names that are using the words "Olympic" or "Olympiad" in their Internet address without permission. ... It's hard to tell which is more disturbing: the fact that the poorly-spelled 2000olimpics.com is a registered site, or that it has been visited more than 23,000 times.

- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to recommend, send an e-mail to Times staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1@aol.com.

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