- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2002

They aren't division rivals. They don't even play in the same conference. But no game this weekend will be as bitter as Monday night's between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
After the Steelers beat the Buccaneers 17-10 in Tampa on Oct.21 last season while sacking Brad Johnson 10 times and allowing 64 rushing yards, voluble Pittsburgh safety Lee Flowers snapped, "I'm tired of Tampa [Bay]. They go to the Pro Bowl because they talk so much. But they're paper champions. That's all they are, and that's all they're ever going to be."
The Bucs (11-3), who can clinch the NFC South and a fourth straight playoff berth by exacting revenge, haven't forgotten Flowers' bouquet of thorns.
"Lee Flowers doesn't have any credentials to talk [trash]," Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "You would never know the man unless he gets on TV and they put his name under his face."
Replied Flowers: "Here's the same guy that for eight years now has been saying he's going to break the sack record. He's sitting there with six sacks [actually 7[1/2] though he hasn't had one in six weeks]. I darn near have six sacks myself [actually three]."
Then they insulted each other's alma mater before Flowers tried for the last word.
"If they feel like my comment determines their whole season, they've got a whole lot of problems in that locker room," he said. "I'm a man and I meant every word of it."
But Sapp, knowing the Steelers (8-5-1) can clinch the AFC North with a victory, came up with the best parting shot.
"There's going to be a box of [division title] hats and shirts on their sideline, there's going to be a box on our sideline," Sapp said. "Who wants to open their box?"
Favre going? Could Brett Favre really walk away from Green Bay after another MVP-type season at 33? Not only did Favre tell ESPN's Ron Jaworski that he wasn't as excited about playing as he used to be, but he has had his house on the market the last few months. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Favre who spends the offseason in his native Mississippi has told friends that owning two enormous homes is just too much. Favre reportedly intends to purchase a townhouse in the Green Bay area by next season. But the Packers are more than just a little bit worried.
"To be honest with you, I'm scared," a Packers official said. "He's close, he is really close. I think he's a year away."
Carter's return Receiver Cris Carter retired in bitterness after last season, his 12th in Minnesota, following the deterioration of relationships with his former proteges, wideout Randy Moss and quarterback Daunte Culpepper. But after spending a recent week in the hospital with kidney failure, the 37-year-old Carter who came out of retirement to sign with Miami in October is upbeat about tomorrow's visit to the Metrodome.
"It has been well documented what we went through," Carter said. "It's not a big deal to me. I just have unbelievable memories. We played some good football, won a lot of big games. I caught a lot of balls [1,004], scored a lot of touchdowns [110]. I had a lot of fun, really grew up, learned a lot. It's going to be exciting. I'm going back to a place I called home for 12 years. But at this point in my career, I want a chance to win it all."
Times change Indianapolis receiver Marvin Harrison has caught 649 passes in seven seasons. That's the same number with which Washington's Charley Taylor retired after 13 years as the NFL record-holder in 1977. Harrison's first catch on Sunday against the New York Giants will knock Taylor out of the top 20. Taylor never caught more than 72 passes in a season (albeit they only played 14 games). If Harrison keeps up his 2002 average for the final two games, he'll haul in a staggering 155 and be averaging an unreal 97 per year. Until 1993, only eight players had ever caught 97 passes in a season.
Owens' next career? By now, most fans have seen Terrell Owens borrowing a cheerleader's pompons and dancing after his touchdown with 64 seconds left in the 49ers' 20-14 loss to visiting Green Bay last Sunday. This stunt wasn't as ugly as Owens' taunting the Cowboys two years ago in Dallas or as mocking as his pulling a Sharpie out of his sock after scoring at Seattle in October. However, it was just as crass in that the 49ers were losing when he went into his routine. But coach Steve Mariucci who feuded with Owens last season praised him and of course the star wideout didn't apologize.
"I think in my next life, I'm going to be a cheerleader," Owens said. "After I cross the end zone, I'm in my own little zone, my own little world."

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