Contra Costa Times

They've got room to talk 49ers, Bucs will not be speechless
January 10, 2003
By Cam Inman

SANTA CLARA - From one outspoken lineman to another, it was a sincere compliment. Mixed in, of course, was a dash of disrespect, intentional or not.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp said Wednesday of 49ers center Jeremy Newberry:

"I have to take my hat off to the young fellow, Mayberry or whatever his name might be," Sapp told Bay Area reporters in a conference call. "Hey, he has confidence in himself because he goes to work every day and he works hard. If you believe in it, say it."

So, think there'll be much said at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday when the Buccaneers (12-4) host the 49ers (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff game? Just consider the renown speakers, er, players who will be showcased -- Sapp, Buccaneers wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, who Thursday was fined $10,000 by the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct in last Sunday's 39-38 win over the New York Giants.

Oh yeah, and don't forget about Newberry. He's the one whose name was splashed in New York tabloid headlines last week, having boasted that the 49ers were going to kick the Giants' butts.

Newberry maintained his confident approach afterward and said the 49ers would "win this game, too."

Mr. Sapp, your response?

"I know it's going to be a 60-minute game kicked off at 1 o'clock," Sapp said. "That's all I can tell you."

That's it? There surely will be more discussion between now and Sunday night.

Johnson piped up this week and told Tampa reporters: "There aren't a whole lot of guys like No. 19 (Johnson) in this league, that will give 16 games, big catches when you need them, that will block 270-pound guys." Owens surely can debate that with his fellow Pro Bowlers next month in Hawaii, while Johnson stays on the mainland.

"He's got a personality," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said of Johnson. "Not everybody is the same in the locker room. Sometimes guys will color outside the lines a bit. That's OK. It's not bad. It's good to have different characters on the team. It adds excitement."

Owens was caught in a firestorm of trash talk with the Giants, especially safety Shaun Williams.

Mariucci admitted things "got out of hand" at the end of last Sunday's game when Owens and Williams both were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness after the 49ers' go-ahead touchdown.

On Thursday, the league levied a $10,000 fine against Owens for unsportsmanlike conduct -- "Taunting and striking an opponent in the head," NFC spokesman Michael Signora said. Williams drew a $10,000 fine and Giants free safety Omar Stoutmire $7,500, both for unnecessary roughness, Signora said.

"Once we caught up, I said, 'Look at the scoreboard,'" Owens said after the game. "At that point, (Williams) got heated and I kept my cool."

Later asked about the prospect of trading barbs with Sapp, Owens replied: "I'm not even going to try and compete with him."

Sapp said of Owens: "He's my favorite. He's the man. C'mon, baby. He's big, he's strong, he's fast, he catches the ball, talks more trash than a little bit and you still can't stop him."

Newberry said he's looking forward to swapping sentences with Sapp.

"That's the part of it that gets me going, too. I love it when they talk to me," Newberry said. "It just gets me more motivated to do my job. I think what he does is in the fun of the game. I've never played against him, but he plays with a lot of emotion and he shows it on the field."

Perhaps introductions will be in order. Newberry chuckled when told that Sapp referred to him as "Mayberry."

Newberry's response: "Sipp's a (heck) of a player."

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