Starks' rude reunion
Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 12:30 a.m.
TAMPA - Max Starks expects to get an earful from Darnell Dockett on Sunday evening in the Super Bowl, variations on a theme of dislike.
Super Bowl XLIII
Who: Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
On TV: NBC
“He’s one of those guys, he’s going to try and get into your head,’’ Starks said. “There will probably be a verbal battle out there. But it should be settled with physicality instead of words.’’
Starks and Dockett, a pair of monster men in the trenches, have been swapping licks and trading barbs since 2000, when Starks arrived at the University of Florida and Dockett became a Florida State Seminole.
The two will bang helmets again in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium, Starks at left offensive tackle for Pittsburgh and Dockett at defensive tackle for Arizona.
The 27-year-old Starks, who already has one Super Bowl ring from three years ago, didn’t hesitate to take shots at the Seminoles this week, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes not.
“Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett, I have some bitter memories of those guys, and I look forward to rekindling that with Darnell. I still haven’t forgotten 2002,’’ said Starks, referring to one of three Gator losses to FSU during his four years in Gainesville.
When asked about the talent in Florida colleges and high schools, Starks said, “If you want a skill guy, if you want a guy with speed, with athleticism, most of the time he’s from Florida,’’ Starks said, adding, “There are some good offensive linemen that come out of here, and defensive linemen, minus Darnell Dockett.’’
But Starks did give Dockett, a Pro Bowler with nine sacks last season and four this year, due credit for his talent.
“He’s always been an athletic guy and a tenacious individual. He’s a guy that presents challenges if you don’t acknowledge him as being a threat on defense,’’ Starks said. “He has gotten better. Over the years, you can only gain more tricks of the trade and more skill and athleticism on how to play guys. But he’s still the same Darnell Dockett to me, and it’s going to be an interesting challenge.’’
Dockett, at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, didn’t mince words about the Gators, either.
“It was like we hated each other,’’ said Dockett, who described Starks as “a huge guy, real physical.’’
On Sunday, the 6-foot-8, 345-pound Starks will be across the line of scrimmage from Dockett and defensive end Bertrand Berry, who will try to add to the 46 times quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked this season. Arizona has seven sacks this postseason.
“They’ve been highly criticized, and I’ve appreciated that,’’ said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin of his O-line. “It’s helped me do my job.”
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