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Alumni name Lynch DB player of year


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000

TAMPA -- He was an All-Pro selection last season and he's going to the Pro Bowl again this season. But the awards don't stop there for safety John Lynch.

Lynch, a fierce hitter in his eighth season with the Bucs, was voted the NFL Alumni Player of the Year among defensive backs.

Lynch was the only Buccaneer named to the squad. The positional awards were given to Saints defensive tackle La' Roi Glover, Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas, Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, Vikings running back Robert Smith, Vikings receiver Chris Carter, Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Lions returner Desmond Howard and Saints coach Jim Haslett.

Surprising omissions from the squad included Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who has an NFL-high 23 touchdowns this season, and Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who leads the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns.

"It's a neat deal," Lynch said. "Any time you get these honors it's representative directly of the defense and the players around me and the entire team."

Former players voted for current players in their positions. Players who once played both ways are allowed two votes, one for each offensive and defensive position they played. It is the 19th year for the awards.

"These guys put in their time and I think they have an appreciation for the way the games is supposed to be played and it's nice to be recognized," Lynch said. "I enjoy the opportunity to talk to these guys because they can give you a lot of different perspectives. There are a lot of people who are deserving, some people in our own secondary maybe. It's a great honor."

DEALING WITH THE COLD: The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field may have its lore, but the temperature in Green Bay isn't going to be a big shock to at least one member of the Bucs.

Right tackle Jerry Wunsch is from Eau Claire, Wis., and played at the University of Wisconsin. He said dealing with the bitter winters was more mental than physical. "It was either go outside and play with 12 degrees or stay in the house all winter, and I couldn't stay in the house all winter," Wunsch said. "People up there go snowmobiling in the low temperatures and have fun and hang out. If you're having fun it's no big deal, but if you're getting your butt kicked it seems real cold."

Wunsch said those who are affected by the weather are those who start worrying about it before the game.

"Basically, when people have problems with the weather, it comes down to you already being beaten before you walk on the field," Wunsch said. "You just have to take care of business and have fun with it and not get caught up in how many layers you need to wear and things like that."

Defensive end Marcus Jones said that although there will be warming machines on the sidelines, there's only one way to deal with the cold while on the field.

"The more you run around, the warmer you make yourself," he said.

HEARTY AWARD: Warrick Dunn is the recipient of the All Heart award, the league announced Thursday. The weekly award is voted on by fans through the league Web site and is designed to raise the awareness of cholesterol screening. Because Dunn won the award, 250 people in the bay area will receive free cholesterol screening at locations to be announced.

INJURY REPORT: Right guard Frank Middleton (left ankle sprain) did not practice but is expected to play Sunday. Left tackle Pete Pierson, who missed Monday's game with a left calf strain, practiced and should start Sunday. Fullback Charles Kirby (left hamstring sprain), receiver Karl Williams (left thumb sprain) and linebacker Shelton Quarles (left ankle sprain) practiced and are listed as probable.

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