- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2000

ATLANTA Anthony Dorsett has never equaled his father's brilliant college and pro career. After all, Tony Dorsett won a national championship with Pitt and a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys.

Now Anthony finally may have some hardware to show off himself. The Tennessee Titans' free safety will make his second career start against the St. Louis Rams in Sunday's Super Bowl XXXIV.

"My dad has a ring and I don't," Dorsett said. "I would like to be able to sit at the kitchen table and show off my ring the way he shows his off to me. That would be real, real nice."

Dorsett replaces Marcus Robinson, who suffered a broken ankle in the AFC Championship game against Jacksonville, to complete the first father-son combination to start in the Super Bowl and third overall. However, father and son's paths are little alike.

Not that Anthony Dorsett hasn't tried to follow his father's success. He played running back like his dad in youth leagues before switching to receiver in high school and then to safety and cornerback in college and the pros. Anthony even attended his father's alma mater and changed his number with the Titans from 30 to his father's 33 in 1998.

But there are obvious differences between the two. Tony won the 1976 Heisman Trophy and was the second pick of the 1977 draft. Anthony started only 17 games in college and was a sixth-round pick in 1996. Tony played in four Pro Bowls and reached the Hall of Fame. Anthony Dorsett is starting only his second career game and is better known as a standout on special teams.

When the two talk about football, there just aren't many shared experiences.

"He can't talk about playing special teams because he hasn't played them," Anthony said. "He won a national championship, and when I was at Pitt we barely won any games. My rookie year we were 8-8. His rookie year, [the Cowboys] won the Super Bowl."

Dorsett inherited his father's speed, though, winning the Big East 55-meter indoor and 200-meter outdoor titles. But that speed didn't translate to running the ball.

"Everybody wants to play offense as a kid because the offense gets all the glory," he said. "I started off playing tailback, but I'd rather hit than be hit."

Dorsett only now appreciates his father's accomplishments as a small running back.

"I remember all his games growing up, but I never really understood the impact that he had on football when I was that young," he said. "My dad was playing tailback at 185 pounds and rushing for 1,100 or 1,200 yards a year and going to the Pro Bowl. That's almost unheard of in this day with the big backs like [Tennessee's] Eddie George and [Jacksonville's] Fred Taylor, who are 6-2, 235 pounds and running 4.3 [seconds in the 40-yard dash].

Anthony isn't intimidated by his first Super Bowl because he has always been around the NFL. Born on the day of Tony Dorsett's first college game, Anthony better remembers running around training camp locker rooms than attending his father's two Super Bowls in 1977 and 1978. But if St. Louis challenges Dorsett, whose inexperience will pose a tempting target, then it won't be the first time Dorsett must defend the family honor.

"I don't think I'll be a target out there," he said. "It's not like it's my first game. They'll just go with their game plan, and they may try to do some things, but I'm not the only person in the secondary."

The biggest challenge is the constant media attention given to the famous namesake. That's where some fatherly advice is welcome.

"We've talked quite a bit in the last few days," Anthony said. "He's told me how to keep my mind on the game."

Dorsett was named the AFC's special teams alternate behind Denver's Detron Smith for the Pro Bowl. His 17 tackles as the punt coverage outside screamer included a late forced fumble against Cleveland's Kevin Johnson that was pivotal in the Titans' 33-21 victory. But Dorsett will be excused from special teams duties against the Rams because he is starting.

"If it comes down to the point that they need me, I'll do it, but that's a lot of running," he said. "[Coach] Jeff Fisher said to concentrate on the defensive game plan and don't worry about special teams."

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