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NFL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 2

Buccaneers Enjoying Rarefied Air of Victory

September 11, 2000|HOUSTON MITCHELL

There was more than the usual buzz in the Tampa Bay locker room after its 41-0 rout of Chicago at Tampa, Fla. A shutout and the most lopsided winning margin in team history was just part of the reason.

Michael Jordan was there at the invitation of Warren Sapp. Jordan drew as much attention as the stars of the game.

"Warren and I are friends who speak to each other by telephone every other week. I am a big fan of his," Jordan, now the head of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, said.

Jordan also admitted that he was "kind of torn as to who I should be rooting for" with the Bears also in town.

"Warren calls me all the time to offer advice as to who we should sign to our basketball team.

"I have yet to listen to any of his suggestions or taken his advice."

And the Buccaneers did nothing to force Jordan off a bandwagon that's picking up steam.

Jordan watched from the box of owner Malcolm Glazer as Tampa Bay extended its streak of holding the Bears without a touchdown to 14 quarters.

The shutout was the first for Tampa Bay since a 35-0 rout of Cincinnati in the final game of 1998.

The Bears were blanked for the first time since Dec. 24, 1989--a stretch of 161 games--when they lost, 26-0, to San Francisco.

ABSOLUTELY THE LAST WORD ON PICKLES

Trainers for Philadelphia and the New York Giants were at odds over the value of pickle juice in preventing dehydration cramps during Sunday's 33-18 victory by the Giants.

Eagle trainer Rick Burkholder said the brine and nutrients in the pickle juice his players drank prevent cramping.

But Giant trainer Ronnie Barnes said the key to preventing cramping from dehydration is a combination of fluid and electrolytes and not pickle juice.

Barnes, who is president of the Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society, said all the stories about pickle juice, "may be doing a public disservice by overstating the need for sodium and understating the need for fluids."

New York got the win Sunday, but the Eagles get one benefit: they announced a corporate partnership with Vlasic which assures Philadelphia of all the pickles it needs.

RAMS MAKE THEIR POINTS

By scoring more than 30 points in their 37-34 win over Seattle, the St. Louis Rams have scored more than 30 points in eight consecutive regular-season games, breaking the NFL record that was held by three other teams: the 1956 Chicago Bears, 1963 Green Bay Packers and 1968 Cleveland Browns.

During their streak, the Rams have scored 281 points, 35.1 a game.

That is three points off the highest average of the four teams--the '56 Bears, who averaged38.1.

The four teams combined for a 27-1 record during their streaks. The only loss? By the Rams to the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-31, in the 1999 regular-season finale.

APPENDIX JINX

CBS commentator Phil Simms missed the Raider-Colt game after undergoing an emergency appendectomy early Saturday, requiring Todd Blackledge to fill in. Simms' partner, Greg Gumbel, had the same surgery May 3.

You think the other on-air member of the team, sideline reporter Armen Keteyian, might be more than a little concerned the next time he has a stomach ache?

NEW STADIUM, SAME OLD BENGALS

There were long lines at "Will Call" ticket windows, but in its regular-season debut Sunday, Paul Brown Stadium got rave reviews in a random sampling of fans at the game between Cleveland and Cincinnati, which the Browns won, 24-7.

"It's beautiful--especially from the other side of the river--it's absolutely gorgeous," said Jane Grimm, of Fort Thomas, Ky.

She and her husband, who have season tickets in the upper deck, on the 45-yard line, had been eagerly looking forward to their first trip to the new stadium.

"My husband's been like a 14-year-old all day," Grimm said. "I really wanted to see the stadium and all the people."

The 66,500-seat stadium, named for the Bengals' founder, is next to the Ohio River and on the edge of the city's business district. Open notches in the four corners allow views of the skyline, river and northern Kentucky.

Hamilton County taxpayers in 1996 approved a half-cent sales tax increase to build the stadium--and a baseball park nearby for the Reds--after Bengal owner Mike Brown threatened to move his team to another city.

The $453-million stadium features curving canopies of woven polyester fabric; heated, natural turf; and 114 private suites to enhance the team's revenue.

DON'T ROCK THE VOTE

This is an election year. But in Green Bay, it's not a question of Al Gore or George W. Bush, it's a question of yes or no.

Tuesday, voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax. The purpose: to raise $160 million of a proposed $295-million renovation plan for Lambeau Field.

Polls show a tight race, and the Packers have been buying TV ads to lobby.

One pictures a mother holding a child at a Packer game with the voice-over, "A gift from the past, promised to the future. Vote yes September 12."

The club also displayed images of Vince Lombardi--Sunday was the 30th anniversary of his death--with ads that talked about how over 80 years of Packer tradition was on the line.

SEMINOLE MOMENT

Three colleges from Florida are among the top five schools with the most players on NFL rosters. Florida State had the most players with 38. Notre Dame, which led the league the last five years, was second with 37. Ohio State ranked third with 35, and Florida and Miami rounded out the top five with 34 each.

Rounding out the top 11: Penn State, 32; Michigan and USC with 31 and Nebraska, Texas A&M and North Carolina with 30.

UCLA is 15th, with 26 players on current rosters.

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