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Spotlight turns on night life of hometown QB

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001


TAMPA -- Shaun King did not break a team rule, much less the law, when he was caught on videotape early Monday in a heated discussion with a plainclothes Florida Highway Patrol trooper.

The incident, which occurred about 3 a.m. in the parking lot at Sacks Seafood Grill and House of Jazz, led to a ridiculous series of rumors that King had been in an accident or arrested or both.

In fact, King was just the object of someone's curiosity.

But that does not mean the Bucs are happy about it.

King, 24, has improved his work habits and exhibited leadership in his preparation this offseason, things that might have been lacking a year ago.

But the Bucs are concerned about his lack of maturity in other areas.

Coach Tony Dungy wondered what King was doing out at 3, the morning before he was supposed to lift weights and attend a brief team workout at 4 p.m. "You can imagine what I told him," Dungy said. "We're still waiting to gather all the facts. But bad things can happen at that hour and usually do."

King has declined comment and you can't blame him.

It's hard for King, a former Gibbs High School star, to go anywhere in his hometown without encountering people he knows or others who believe they know him.

That said, he has had the opportunity to live a dream of quarterbacking the NFL team he grew up rooting for. But with the spoils come responsibility and the knowledge he is under the microscope as a pro athlete.

King will be a restricted free agent after the 2001 season and an unrestricted free agent in 2002.

By then he would like the Bucs to commit their future to him.

But how are the Bucs supposed to feel about paying $40-million to a man who parties until 3 a.m. on a work night?

King could benefit from following the work habits of starting quarterback Brad Johnson. In the offseason there are plenty of days off to spend on the town for one of the area's most eligible bachelors.

MLB RACE: The competition between Bucs starting middle linebacker Jamie Duncan and challenger Nate Webster is too close to call. But if Tampa Bay's defense has a new starter other than Simeon Rice and Dexter Jackson this season, it will be Webster.

Coaches love his instincts, speed and aggressiveness and consider him a big-play maker. The only thing he lacks is experience, which he should get this season.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: After two preseason games, coaches were disappointed in the poor passing game.

Even Johnson, with his career 61 percent completion percentage, was struggling at around 52 percent before Saturday night's offensive resurgence against New England. And he's been the best of the lot.

While it's true the Bucs did not have Keyshawn Johnson, Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony in the lineup together the first two preseason games, many of the incompletions were quarterback error.

"We just have to throw the ball better," Dungy said. "We can't be at 48 percent or whatever we're throwing at and be where we want to be. We've got to make some third downs to keep the drives going. We just have to throw better."

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