Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 31, 2003

Buccaneers at last land on Hawai'i

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

In his three previous Pro Bowl appearances, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety John Lynch always remembered the day the Super Bowl champions finally showed up in Hawai'i. Because world champs return home for the obligatory parade, their all-stars usually show up a few days after players from teams who did not make the Super Bowl.

The NFC quarterbacks for Sunday's Pro Bowl, from left, Jeff Garcia of San Francisco, Brad Johnson of Tampa Bay, and Donovan McNabb of Philadelphia mug for the camera.

Associated Press

"It's just awesome," Lynch said. "One of the great things being over here the last four years, you always remember the day when the world champs arrive. There's a certain respect amongst the players. Even guys you've competed against and have been intense rivals with, everybody comes up and pays their respects, congratulates you. That really makes you feel good."

The feeling is so good that the players overlook the jet lag. The Buccaneers' 48-21 win against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII took place in San Diego. The team returned to Tampa for a parade. Then Tampa Bay's five Pro Bowl representatives — quarterback Brad Johnson, running back Mike Alstott, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive end Simeon Rice and Lynch — arrived here after Wednesday's morning workout. The five Bucs' first practice was yesterday at Ihilani.

"There's a lot of jet lag going on, but you just go on with adrenaline," said Johnson, who threw for two touchdowns in the Super Bowl victory. "The experience of going through the playoffs, being part of the Super Bowl, and then the Pro Bowl, it's something kind of special. I've got all offseason to rest and get ready for next year."

Lynch said it was sort of hard to leave Tampa for the Pro Bowl because "the place is just going crazy."

"I didn't get much sleep, but it's definitely sweet," he said.

• What: NFL all-star game, AFC vs. NFC

• When: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

• Where: Aloha Stadium

• Radio/TV: Live on KITV (Channel 4), pending sellout, and KKEA (1420 AM)

The Super Bowl experience is overwhelming Alstott said. Even though the Pro Bowl features most of the league's best players, being Super Bowl champion seems to top everything.

"I've been in the league seven years and a lot of guys have been in the league a lot longer than I have and they've never had the opportunity," Alstott said. "I can say I had the opportunity. Along with my teammates, we won the world championship."

But being good has its price. And apparently Tampa Bay — which lured head coach Jon Gruden from the Raiders during the offseason for four high draft picks and $8 million — is willing to pay more to keep defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Just before Kiffin was to interview for the San Francisco 49ers head coaching position yesterday, he had reached an agreement with the Buccaneers that would make him the highest-paid assistant, according to ESPN.com. The three-year, $5.1 million deal surpasses the three-year, $3.6 million deal that defensive coordinator Jim Johnson got to keep him with the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

"He's one of the best at what he does," Brooks said.

Rice said he would have been happy for Kiffin, even if he had left the Buccaneers for a head coaching job. Tampa Bay was the No.1-rated defense in the NFL.

"He deserves it," Rice said.

With their defensive coordinator secured, the Buccaneers can relax a little while recovering from their whirlwind travel schedule.

"It's been a little hectic, but you know, how many time is it going to happen in your life?" Alstott said. "You get the world championship, you get to go home and celebrate with your town, then you get to come out here and hang out in Hawai'i, so i wouldn't change anything."