By: Bob George/
January 22, 2003

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Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 5:
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Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 4: Tight ends
Guregian: Offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia is key to finding Patriots’ next left tackle

There are not many Raiders to like in these parts. But few people who have followed the NFL down and through the years would have a problem with the incredibly long career of one George Blanda. His career spanned four decades, and his best-known work was perhaps with the Raiders in the twilight of his career. So let's let the old man tee things off for Super Bowl week. The Super Bowl II veteran (although on that Raider team it was future Vikings punter Mike Eischeid who did the kickoffs, while Blanda did the FGs and XPs) steps into one, straight on and not soccer style, and gets a pretty good foot into it.

It is incredibly refreshing to see that Joe Jurevicious has his life's priorities in solid order.

Good news: Jon Gruden is going to the Super Bowl.

Bad news: Keyshawn Johnson is going to the Super Bowl.

It is obscene, having seen so many incarnations down and through the years, how bad the network pregame shows have become.

How in the world could the Eagles have come out with such little emotion, at the stadium's finale in front of 60,000 rabid, screaming fans?

The Eagles have been suddenly exposed as totally impotent on offense if Donovan McNabb is contained.

Or if he has a bad day.

I'm just like that saleslady. Just can't tell the Barber brothers apart.

Wonder if the coaches and players can.

Or the officials.

Hmmm. How mischievous are those Barbers?

Why, oh why, can't the Patriots get good punters like Lee Johnson.

On the other hand, the Tampa Bay punter notched an awesome six-yard punt. His name? Tom Tupa.

Malcolm Glazer, you're no Bob Kraft.

Honk if your entire life and well-being revolves around Super Bowl Media Day, and if you were well served this year.

How come the Raiders can run the same offense as the Patriots and yet produce an MVP and a Super Bowl berth?

Three simple answers. Speed. Yards after catch. Mobile quarterback.

Say what you want about Rich Gannon. But Steve McNair is my man in the AFC this year.

Any Tennessee fans out there feel better when they saw Craig Hentrich teeing up placekicks and not Joe Nedney?

There's a beer ad which goes like this: "I…like…quarterbacks eating dirt…" Ten bucks says that ad was written by Raider fans, starred Raider fans, and was sung by Raider fans. Thank goodness at least the beer is good.

As are those twins, the prides of Worcester and all that.

All year long, all you'll hear is how the Raiders were ripped off in 2001 if they somehow win on Sunday.

And pity us Golden Staters who swear allegiance to the Patriots.

Geek of the Week: Tom Brady. If he doesn't throw those red zone picks at San Diego, he'd probably be back there again on Sunday as a combatant.

Geek of the Week II: Whoever was supposed to tackle LaDainian Tomlinson in that same game, and didn't.

Disagree? Sit down and think a while and imagine going into Miami 4-0, and then taking on Green Bay and Denver at home. Tell me things wouldn't have gone differently.

They say they should hold every Super Bowl in New Orleans. Nah. They should hold every one in San Diego. You simply don't get more perfect than the city that gave us Ted Williams.

You take the French Quarter. I'll take the Gaslight District.

Remember him: Steve Spurrier. The great quarterback legacy that is Brad Johnson and Tampa Bay began with the current Redskin coach. He may not tell you how many of those 26 losses he was a part of, but at least he got his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Betcha Steve remembers that 14th loss of 1976. Didn't some opposing quarterback set an NFL record for touchdowns by a QB in a single season during that game? Hint: that QB was also named Steve.

Funny, we haven't looked at Tampa Bay that way in a while. But for those of you who remember those 26 straight losses by the Bucs to open their entire history in 1976-77, whew, those guys stunk.

Their first franchise win was in Week 13 in 1977 against New Orleans. Then-Saints coach Hank Stram ordered the game film burned. Would you have done any different?

Personally, I thought seeing the Buccaneers in the 1979 NFC Championship Game, and at home no less, was one of the most astonishing sports stories of that decade.

Keep trying to bait Jon Gruden, guys. He won't bite. So we'll tell you. He hates Al Davis and the Raiders and wants to beat the dickens out of them. Reporters need to waste their energy on other delicious stories and take Gruden's hatred for the Raiders as a given.

Biggest problem for the Raiders? Containing Warren Sapp.

Biggest problem for the Bucs? Shutting up Warren Sapp.

We guarantee that the venue will be no factor. Oakland comes here once a year and it's in the same state. Tampa Bay folk think their area is better. It will be business as usual all week long.

These guys may be happy that New Orleans hosted last year's Super Bowl and not this year's.

Best line of the week: Whoever resurrected Bum Phillips' assessment of former Dolphin coach Don Shula: "He can take his'n and beat your'n, then turn around and take your'n and beat his'n." Heck, we're gonna find out Sunday if that theorem really works, won't we?

It's cliché, and it's already overrated. But dang, that story of Gruden and his old team is pretty seductive. Can't wait for kickoff, folks.

As for our predictions? Never thought you'd ask.

Raiders won't choke, but might have some fun.

In the Big Show, they're 3-1.

But Tampa won't worry about tips or tucks.

Because this one will belong to the Bucs.

So go for your favorite food, munchies and drinks.

Though the Patriots aren't here, which just plain stinks.