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NFC/ TAMPA BAY REPORT

Out West, Rice Goes Hollywood

January 22, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — You've seen Simeon Rice in a football helmet.

Now, imagine him in a beret with a bullhorn.

Rice sees himself as part Tampa Bay defensive end, part Simeon Spielberg.

"I want to write, direct, the whole thing," he said. "I've got a few treatments that I did. I want to take it to the highest level, promote that to the highest. I've found it's somewhat of a gift I have: I'm colorful. I started out telling stories, and the stories I was telling people were feeling -- they liked them -- so I said let me take this to the next level."

And he refuses to be typecast as a writer.

"I do it all," he said. "Comedy, romance, drama, intrigue, suspense, whatever you got I got something for it."

Rice plans to spend the off-season in Los Angeles taking screenwriting classes. He said he might even write a treatment about this week. Should the Buccaneers happen to lose, it could be his first foray into the horror genre.

*

San Diego holds special memories for Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Not good memories, just special.

"When we were here in 1996, Warren Sapp and myself, we were being made fun of as the 'Yuckaneers' on a pregame show," he said. "We were the laughingstock of that segment and we took it personal. It was on ESPN's pregame show. We were playing the Chargers and they were doing the matchups for that particular segment, and they thought that we were the Yuckaneers.

"We said that quietly we were going to be the foundation that turned this team around. It's quite ironic that we've come full circle. We've not been here since then, and now we're back here in the biggest stage ever to win a championship and bring this franchise full circle. From the laughingstock to the best in the world."

*

Tampa Bay kicker Martin Gramatica, the first Argentine to play in the Super Bowl, is bringing in his whole family for the game. His mom is coming, but she won't be in the stands.

"She's flying in," he said. "But she's going to stay at the hotel and not watch it."

*

Raider Frank Middleton, the enormous and feisty guard who recently was in the middle of a pregame skirmish with the New York Jets, is a former Buccaneer out to prove Tampa Bay made a mistake by letting him go. Defensive tackle Sapp still considers him a friend, albeit a ferocious one.

"We battled all the time," Sapp said. "Me and the big fella have been grinding since he got here. I watched him develop into the player he is now. I just consider him a mauler. That's the way he likes to play the game. He's just a big ol' country boy from Texas."

*

Yes, Oakland has the No. 1 passing offense. Yes, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are two of the three members in the 1,000-catch club, and Jerry Porter is a rising star. Tampa Bay cornerback Brian Kelly knows all that. Somehow, though, he isn't concerned.

"Two weeks ago, we faced [San Francisco's] Terrell Owens, and the big question was if we were going to be able to defend a big 6-foot-4 or 6-5 receiver ... "

The Buccaneers won that game.

"When you get out there on the field," Kelly said, "all those triangle numbers -- height, weight, speed -- don't matter if you get out there and play good football."

*

At least one New York Giant made it to the Super Bowl.

Giant running back Tiki Barber, whose twin brother, Ronde, is a Tampa Bay cornerback, has been on the Buccaneer sideline the last two weeks offering moral support. Ronde wants him to be there for Sunday's game too.

Tiki was in the Super Bowl two years ago when the Giants lost to Baltimore. He didn't have any advice for his twin, though.

"He didn't help me out at all," Ronde said. "His deal was, 'You'll understand what it's all about when you get your shot.' Now I'm starting to understand it."

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