MARTIN GRAMATICA: No, this is not misplaced. He won two Bucs games single-handedly (single-footedly?) with a couple of 50-plus-yarders here against the Packers and a 46-yarder through a typhoon in Miami. Missing the kick in Green Bay wasn't the end of the world. Besides, the defense could have held the Packers at bay in overtime and didn't. Gramatica is hurting enough for all of us now. We owe him this thank you for helping to get the Bucs this far.
ST. LOUIS RAMS: One week after being attacked by three Saints fans at the Superdome, Todd Fleming, a 28-year-old St. Louis construction worker, was invited to fly on the Rams' team plane on their return trip to New Orleans. Fleming sustained a broken nose and needed 10 stitches above his left eye after the fans followed him into a stadium corridor and pummeled him. One of the first people to greet Fleming as he was being treated in an ambulance was Rams owner Georgia Frontiere.
COSMIC IRONY: Florida receiver Jabar Gaffney, arrested and charged with stealing a watch from the locker of a high school player at the state football championships at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last December, reportedly lost some jewelry during the scuffle between UF and Miami players on Bourbon Street.
MARIO LEMIEUX: The magic is back.
BUD SELIG: Why penalize a good team by taking away one of its players? Why reward a bad team for inept management or a refusal to spend money by giving them a free player? For the sake of competitive balance, says the baseball commissioner. While baseball has many problems, this isn't the way to fix them. True revenue sharing (unlike the system in place) would go a long way toward a solution.
GATORS AND HURRICANES: It took 13 years to get them back together on the football field and one night on Bourbon Street to renew their rivalry with players from both teams involved in a verbal confrontation that led to a fight. Coaches, players and police downplayed the incident, so we will, too. Naughty, naughty.
LOSING GRANT HILL: The Magic were counting on him to lead the team to the NBA championship. It still is _ next season. Surgery he had in April to repair a broken bone in his left ankle didn't heal properly. Another operation will finish his season _ and probably Orlando's.
THE DEATH OF JOE GILLIAM JR.: The ex-Steeler quarterback, hocked his two Super Bowl rings as he tumbled into a life of alcohol, drugs and homelessness. He had pulled himself together the past few years and the people who bought the rings returned them to his father, who said he would give them back to Joe when the time was right. Joe died Christmas night of an apparent heart attack, four days shy of his 50th birthday.