Richardson gives pregame talk

Patriots receiver J.J. Stokes has gone from the waiver wire to the Super Bowl.

Rapper Snoop Dogg gives a high-five to Bob Kraft, chairman and owner of the New England Patriots, as they check out the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Saturday.

The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, February 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 1, 2004 at 1:10 a.m.

HOUSTON - Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was coach John Fox's choice to talk to the team during its pre-Super Bowl walkthrough practice at Reliant Stadium on Saturday.

``I asked him if he wouldn't mind speaking to the team - not as the owner, but as a player who played on a similar stage in similar circumstances,'' Fox said afterward.

Fox always has someone speak to the team the day before the game, and he chose his boss, who as a wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts caught a touchdown pass in the 1959 NFL championship victory over the New York Giants.

Fox, speaking through a pool reporter, declined to divulge the contents of Richardson's six-minute speech.

``It was private,'' Fox said.

Although the walkthrough was uneventful, Fox said it was the highlight of his week in Houston.

``Just being here and knowing that it was getting close,'' he said. ``This was a wonderful experience. We're proud to be here, and it's a huge opportunity for our team and our organization. We want to make the most of it.''

  • SUPER ODYSSEY: From the waiver wire to the Super Bowl, J.J. Stokes has had quite an adventure this season.

    The former 49ers receiver signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the beginning of the year in hopes of restarting a career that never lived up to the hype of when he was a first-round draft pick out of UCLA.

    Midway through the season, he was cut.

    The New England Patriots picked him up, and now Stokes has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring.

    ``I guess it just depends on how you look at it,'' Stokes said. ``On one hand, it's great to be at the show. On the other, you'd like to be someone who worked your butt off to help the team get there. But overall, I'm glad I'm here.''

  • SNOOP DOGG ALL STARS: Rapper Snoop Dogg was on hand as the Patriots went through a brief walkthrough practice at Reliant Stadium on Saturday.

    Players' friends and family members accompanied the team, including Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan, twin brother of Patriots outside linebackers coach Rob Ryan.

    Snoop Dogg was there with a youth football team called the Snoop Dogg All Stars.

    ``We were trying to take a little bit of the edge off, give everybody a chance to relax,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``It's been a good hard week with a lot of concentration. We figured we'd lighten up a little here and be ready to go tomorrow.''

  • LOSERS' LAMENT: The two quarterbacks, and NFL co-MVPs, who were eliminated by the Patriots in the playoffs, had these assessments of New England, and what Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme faces today:

    Steve McNair, Tennessee - ``I think New England is a well-disciplined, well-coached football team. They're not going to beat themselves. They're going to make you drive the length of the field, hoping along the way that you make mistakes, turn the ball over. That's the way they play. They show you a different front every play. They want to confuse you in the secondary, which coverage they're going to give you. They want to confuse you at the line of scrimmage. They want you to do something you don't want to do as a quarterback.''

    Peyton Manning, Indianapolis - ``Obviously coach Belichick and coach (Romeo) Crennel are given a lot of the credit for all these schemes, but really, it's their players who make it work. Especially guys like (Willie) McGinest and Ty Law, and Tedy Bruschi, one of the most underrated linebackers in the league; and (Rodney) Harrison, to be able to come in and replace Lawyer Milloy, he's probably the only guy who could have done that. So the players do a great job going out to execute the game plan, so that's what makes them so good.''

  • BROWN-COLORED GLASSES: Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel grew up as a Cleveland Browns fan in Akron, Ohio. That was the only stop where Belichick didn't have success as a coach. Vrabel was not happy when Belichick rid the Browns of one of his favorite players, quarterback Bernie Kosar, and some day, he may tell that to Belichick.

    ``We actually haven't had that conversation yet,'' Vrabel said. ``Maybe when I'm done I'll ask him a little bit about that.''

  • STRANGE BUT TRUE: The new NFL Network will promote itself as 14 high-profile league personalities take turns singing ``Tomorrow'' from the musical ``Annie'' in a commercial during the Super Bowl. The cast includes Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells, and singing cameos by several NFL players, including Michael Strahan of the New York Giants (eating in a diner), Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp (playing golf), Miami's Zach Thomas (shaving) and Green Bay's Al Harris and Mike McKenzie on a boat named ``Cheesehead.''

  • ROMAN LEGION: The Super Bowl logo looks a bit crowded this year, with those three X's, one V and three I's.

    This is Super Bowl XXXVIII, or 38 for those not fluent in Roman numerals.

    There won't be another one that long until 2044, when it's Super Bowl LXXVIII (78). The first with eight numerals will be LXXXVIII (88) in 2054.

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