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Season's cooking for Lynch

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


There's a baby on the way, more money in the bank (a five-year, $24-million contract extension), an appearance on the Food Network, a 29th birthday Monday, talk of a broadcast career, three wishes from a genie and a political take. Here's that and more from Bucs safety John Lynch:

RM: Your second child is due on Nov. 25, the day before the home game against Buffalo.

JL: We've already taken care of that. One of the first questions we asked when we knew that we were going to have a baby in the middle of the season is, "Could we induce?" Once it gets close enough, the baby is going to come on a Tuesday (an day off). I don't want to put myself in that situation. If it happens on a Wednesday I can still play on Sunday. But in order to prevent a big deal, we're going to do everything to ensure the baby is born on a Tuesday.

RM: What's it like to be the latest big-money man?

JL: I don't feel any different, to be honest with you. I still go out there on Sundays and have the time of my life. I guess there's a feeling of security for my family. You know, during the whole contract thing, all you want is for them to respect you.

RM: So they showed you respect with their wallets?

JL: That's the way they show you respect. I appreciate that.

RM: Have your teammates messed with you since?

JL: We were in here (Thursday) and everybody was joking, saying they wanted to see my check now. They said, "Oh, you're smiling now." They all know what I make because it was in the paper. You try to keep that your own business and it's something you really don't like. You do feel weird because you feel like everybody else is looking at you different.

RM: So now you're a chef on the Food Network?

JL: Yeah, I felt it was a good opportunity to get involved with Direct TV. They asked me, and then all of a sudden I'm having a cook-off. It's me against Ronnie Lott (taped Saturday).

RM: What are you going to cook?

JL: I guess that's a mystery. They give me a bag of ingredients and I take it from there.

RM: Can you cook?

JL: I can grill, but that's about it. At home, I can make a grilled cheese sandwich for (son) Jake.

RM: So, you're walking along Clearwater Beach, kick a bottle, a genie pops out and gives you three wishes. What are they?

JL: No. 1 would be for this new baby to be healthy. That's all you can ask and that's what I want. No. 2 would be make it to the Super Bowl. No. 3 would be to win the Super Bowl.

RM: Who's going to be the next president, Al Gore or George Bush?

JL: Oh, boy. . . . I think it's looking like Gore's going to take it, unless Bush does something to change everyone's mind. I think what's bothersome to me is that in today's world, with the media polls and everything, people aren't making decisions based on their own opinions. I think they are making decisions based on polls.

RM: What should they be concerned about?

JL: They should form their decisions on the issues. Right now, I'm a parent and that's how I look at it. What environment do I want them to be raised in? How are we going to help the most people? I'm talking about the right issues; education, health care reform, what's going on with our military. Those are the things I think they should base their votes on.

RM: By nature, do you think all politicians become liars?

JL: I do. It's a shame. It really is. Regardless of what your politics are. You know, we had the opportunity to meet the president when he came here and he seemed a really nice guy. But then, you see how he sat there and lied to the American people. That kind of bums you out.

RM: You have this good-boy image, but you've done some bad stuff.

JL: No one's perfect. I'm far from it. I was a troublemaker when I was young. I went through a couple of years there where I was just a terror. I had no self-control in class; fifth through seventh grade, for whatever reason, I was just causing havoc. I remember the teachers. I remember being in the principal's office a lot. I remember my dad telling me if I don't shape up I'm going to go to this military academy in San Diego. I had an eighth-grade teacher (George Ronis) that really grabbed me and said, "You better get this straight 'cause you're going down the wrong track."

RM: What's up with the Rocky series?

JL: I'm a big fan of the Rocky series. When I really want to get up for a game I would pop one in of them. Rocky 1, 2 or 3. I remember before a college game once, I watched all five. . . .

RM: Boxers or briefs?

JL: Boxers when I sleep, briefs during the day, for day-to-day things.

RM: T-shirt and jeans, or suits?

JL: For the most part, T-shirt and jeans. That's the southern California in me, but that's also living in Florida.

RM: Is it true that the dress code among the players is starting to step up?

JL: Our team's kind of going through that right now. Tony (Dungy) doesn't require us to dress up as a team. He requires we have slacks and collared shirts. Now, guys are trying to outdo each other. For a number of years, guys wore jeans and a collared shirt. Now, everybody's suiting up.

RM: Is the suit quality directly proportionate to how you're playing?

JL: Yes. I remember last year when we went to St. Louis, 80 percent of the team was suiting up. It was a big, big game and everybody knew it. Some guys are pretty clean. It's fun to watch. And since Keyshawn (Johnson) has arrived, it's elevated. Everyone knows his reputation as a nice dresser and so they're trying to raise their game a bit.

RM: What are your plans after football?

JL: I don't have that figured out yet but the one thing that's very appealing to me is broadcasting. It seems to me as a way to stay somewhat involved in the game. Coaching? I would like it but I have watched too many coaches spend hours and time away from their family. I think that will be too difficult for me.

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