St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Bucs lose war of words, labeled 'paper champions'


© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 22, 2001

Photo gallery

Flash photo and audio gallery

TAMPA -- Less than 30 minutes after the Bucs' 17-3 loss to Pittsburgh Sunday, Steelers safety Lee Flowers wouldn't have dared pour salt on their open wounds.

Instead, he dumped a bucket of verbal acid.

Flowers, incensed by what he perceived as a lack of respect from Tampa Bay before the game, refused to talk to reporters initially. Then he talked angrily about the Bucs, saying they are overrated and "paper champions" who live off their reputation.

"They talk so much, and they go to the Pro Bowl because they talk," he said. "They ain't nothing but paper champions. That's all they are, and that's all they're ever going to be."

Flowers said he took exception to the pregame talk that focused too heavily on Tampa Bay. He said he was offended by analysts who predicted the Bucs would win, and who gushed about the team's nine Pro Bowl players.

The Steelers, after all, entered the game leading the NFL in total defense, passing defense and rushing yards. Yet, Flowers said, all the talk was about the Bucs being among the preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl.

But Sunday, the Steelers looked more Super Bowl bound than the Bucs, sacking Brad Johnson 10 times (four by linebacker Joey Porter) and holding the Bucs to 64 rushing yards.

"I think a lot of people underestimated us because, 'Oh, John Lynch is All-Pro. Warren Sapp is All-Pro. Oh, they got Brad Johnson,"' he said.

"Tell Brad Johnson he needs to give Joey Porter some of his money. Half of his salary needs to go to Joey Porter."

Flowers said it angered him that several Bucs, namely Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson, talked trash during the game but did not back it up.

He said he also read articles about how the Bucs didn't seem overly concerned about beating the Steelers even though Pittsburgh entered the game leading the AFC Central at 3-1.

"Coach (Bill) Cowher brought us some newspaper clippings about how confident they feel today. Like we're some scrubs," Flowers said. "I think a lot of guys slept on that all night and woke up with a sense of urgency and a sense of focus. And from the first play on out, I think we dominated.

"I think we have some good football players on this team also. To come out and say we're the 'No Name' defense. That was just ... I don't know who said it, and I don't care because we're about to have a party on the plane."

Asked if he was worried his comments might haunt him if the Steelers face the Bucs again, Flowers remained defiant.

"I hope we do see these guys again. This could be newspaper clippings for a month, two months or whatever," he said. "It might make them play better."

Back to Sports

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk


  • Who's to blame for the Bucs' poor start? Vote here
  • A Steel hurtin'
  • Bucs lose war of words, labeled 'paper champions'
  • Bettis brings big game
  • Dunn hurt, status in doubt
  • Bucs at a loss after Steelers' sack attack
  • Take the reins off offense
  • Gimme five
  • Sound bites
  • Game balls
  • Bucs quotebook
  • Steelers quotebook
  • 'Easy stuff' sinks defense

  • College football
  • Spurrier: There could be changes, not at QB
  • Blackwell shines, and team yawns
  • Bowden rethinks stance on Rix as QB

  • Baseball
  • D'backs' fast four-ward
  • Soriano homer lifts Yankees
  • Wild night on mound
  • Baseball briefs
  • Atlanta won't be forgotten

  • Sports Etc.
  • Earnhardt Jr. in a storm again
  • Ice Palace problems rain on Magic game
  • Drama on 18th green goes Argentine's way
  • Azinger's first hook is expensive
  • Disallowed goal is fine with team
  • NHL briefs
  • Hill healthier; team ailing
  • Daily fishing report
  • Wreck and reaction are predictable
  • Giants are struggling to shorten field

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts