Ex-Bucs On Raiders Give Credit Where It's Due
The Tampa Tribune, published 27 January 2003

Bucs alumni everywhere are celebrating Tampa Bay's first Super Bowl championship, with two notable exceptions. Oakland's Frank Middleton and Regan Upshaw not only had to deal with the pain of losing Super Bowl XXXVII on Sunday, they also had to come to grips with watching their former team celebrate at their expense.

``It hurts when you lose, especially to these guys,'' Upshaw said after Tampa Bay's 48-21 victory at Qualcomm Stadium. ``We wanted to beat them bad.''

``They deserved it,'' Middleton said. ``They kicked our butts. I went over and congratulated them. If I can't win, I'm glad some guys I know won. At least I know I can go look at [the Vince Lombardi Trophy].''

It was not a particularly good game for either ex-Buc. Upshaw made a big play on the game's third snap, getting a piece of Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson's arm and causing an interception. But the defensive end also was flagged three times for offsides. Two of those penalties were declined by the Bucs.

``They just outplayed us,'' Upshaw said. ``They beat us. This was their day. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, and my hat is off to them.''

Middleton's offensive line did not keep Tampa Bay's pass rush off quarterback Rich Gannon, who was sacked five times. And the former Bucs guard ended the first half by scuffling with some of his ex-teammates. After the game, Middleton said he congratulated as many Bucs as he could. ``They're great guys, great players,'' Middleton said. ``I'm not [ticked] that they won. I'm [ticked] that we lost.''

Their misery had company in the Raiders' locker room. Oakland linebacker Bill Romanowski was trying to join Charles Haley as the only players to win five Super Bowl rings. And 36-year-old receiver Tim Brown, playing in his first Super Bowl, was trying to put an exclamation point on his career. ``Obviously I'm disappointed,'' Brown said. ``But I'm not thinking about retirement, so my thought process is trying to get back here next year. Hopefully I can get back and win this thing.''

Added 40-year-old Jerry Rice, another veteran who plans to return: ``I really wanted this for Tim, but he's a fighter, man. He's a warrior and he's going to bounce back.''