ATLANTA _ So little has happened during Super

Associated Press Published:

ATLANTA _ So little has happened during Super Bowl week that the hottest topic has been the cold weather.

No quarterbacks mooning helicopters. No restaurant brawls with Magic Johnson's bodyguard. No dog collars at media day _ although the man who wore one last year, Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan, did show up with a microphone in hand.

Even the guaranteed win was a tame one. Rams receiver Az-Zahir Hakim had to be goaded into one that didn't sound all that sincere.

Both teams did have to practice in less-than-ideal conditions until Friday. And the wicked weather forced the Titans to shiver through two news conferences in a barely heated tent.

Otherwise, the biggest football news all week came out of Dallas (Dave Campo), New York (Al Groh) and New England (Bill Belichick).

You certainly won't hear the Tennessee Titans or St. Louis Rams complaining about the lack of headline material. They're here to play for a championship, not stir controversy or produce bulletin board material.

If Sunday's game at the Georgia Dome is as uninspiring, ABC will be crying over people tuning out, and the Georgia Dome could empty long before the conclusion.

"I think you can lose a game like this during the week if you don't focus and you don't take the right approach to getting ready for these games," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Friday. "But I also believe you can give yourself a chance to win this game during the week. That is what we have done the last couple of weeks, that is what we are doing this week."

Fisher claimed the wild-card Titans (16-3) haven't lost any edge, despite needing to beat three formidable opponents to get to their first Super Bowl. He offered as proof their behavior at Thursday's practice.

"On the practice field, there were these large pipes leaning up against the fence in the end zone there," he said. "They were almost like drainage pipes and I turned and looked and our offensive line during the special teams practice was pushing this pipe across the field with an offensive lineman inside the pipe.

"So they are obviously relaxed and having fun and that is important this week."

Ah, but isn't it much more engaging when players portray 1940s reporters (Fred Dryer and Lance Rentzel)? Or when a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback (John Elway) or coach (Bill Walsh) is on the verge of retirement? Or the likes of Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor and Mean Joe Greene are overshadowing everything else?

Definitely not for these leading characters. They'd just as soon be invisible until kickoff.

"Our players are very calm, very relaxed, not overenthused," Rams coach Dick Vermeil said. "I think they are just sort of allowing themselves to build it up to a crescendo on Sunday evening."

Even if the marquee value of this Super Bowl is minimal, Vermeil said Tennessee-St. Louis still is intriguing because it's, well, Tennessee vs. St. Louis.

"I think it is good for everybody to all of a sudden have a new team representing the NFC and a new team representing the AFC," Vermeil said. "I think it stimulates that part of the country and I think every city who invests in a National Football League team deserves the right to share the epitome of the league, the Super Bowl. And to have their emotions and excitement levels all at the same level as a Denver and San Francisco and the likes of the other teams that have been here many, many times."

OK. The NFL loves to spread the wealth, so if the Dallas dynasty or the San Francisco dynasty or the Denver dynasty can't be on hand, go for the entirely new blood. This is the first Super Bowl for the Tennessee franchise, formerly of Houston. It is the first appearance for the Rams since moving from Los Angeles for the 1995 season and the first time a St. Louis representative has made the big game.

All of which should inspire the participants to speak boldly, act wildly and hog a spotlight they've never encountered and might never reach again.

Sorry. Not this week. Want excitement? Turn to the Weather Channel.

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