Tampa Bay Buccaneer Coach Jon Gruden may have been a no-show at his team's news conference Monday, but he was still a main topic of conversation at the Raider media session.
Receiver Jerry Rice, who sat at the main podium in the absence of his coach, Bill Callahan, said he wouldn't have been sitting there, or even been in San Diego this week, were it not for Gruden.
"The main reason I went to the Raiders is because of Jon Gruden," Rice said. "I felt I needed someone with a lot of intensity and he pretty much challenged me every day."
So what did Gruden say to lure Rice into silver and black?
"He did not say that he wanted me to be that third receiver," the 40-year-old Rice told the media. "He said, 'I want you to come in there and I want you to fight hard and really help this team.' The feedback that I was getting from the other teams was that they wanted me to come in and be that third receiver."
Rice refused to buy into stories about animosity from fellow Raiders toward Gruden.
"I haven't really felt any resentment," he said.
So there's no resentment, but surely there must be a strong desire by his former players to beat Gruden.
"Right now, because it's so early in the week, you haven't really gotten into that," said Raider offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy. "I think a lot of guys, including myself, are just taking this opportunity to be a part of something great.
"We haven't figured out all of the little idiosyncrasies about what our approach to this game is and how we feel about Gruden. We're just happy to be here."
Two Raiders who might not say they are happy to be here are defensive end Trace Armstrong and tight end Roland Williams. Armstrong will miss Super Bowl XXXVII because of a ruptured groin, suffered as he was warming up for the Raiders' playoff opener two weeks ago against the New York Jets. Williams has torn ligaments in his left knee and toe. His season ended in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
WHEN: Sunday, 3:15 p.m., Ch. 7
SITE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.
SUPER IN SAN DIEGO: This is the third Super Bowl held in San Diego. The city hosted Super Bowl XXXII on Jan. 25, 1998, and Super Bowl XXII on Jan. 31, 1988.
QUALCOMM SEATING CAPACITY: 70,000-plus.
OAKLAND PRACTICE SITE: San Diego Charger practice facility.
TAMPA BAY PRACTICE SITE: University of California San Diego (Note: Practices closed to the public).
PREGAME ENTERTAINMENT: Carlos Santana joins Michelle Branch and Beyonce Knowles.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Dixie Chicks. Celine Dion will sing "God Bless America" before the game.
HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT: No Doubt and Shania Twain.
TICKET DISTRIBUTION: Oakland, 17.5%; Tampa Bay, 17.5%; Host team (Chargers) 5%; Other teams, 34.8%; NFL, 25.2%.
OTHER SUPER BOWL HOST CITIES: New Orleans, 9; Tulane Stadium, 3; Louisiana Superdome, 6; Miami, (8; Orange Bowl, 5; Pro Player Stadium (formerly Joe Robbie Stadium), 3; Los Angeles, 7; (Coliseum 2, Rose Bowl 5); Tampa Bay, 3; San Diego, 2; Atlanta, 2; Arizona, 1; Detroit, 1; Houston, 1; Minneapolis, 1; Stanford, 1.
FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES: 2004, Houston; 2005, Jacksonville; 2006, Detroit.
*--* Buccaneers vs. Raiders The Buccaneers and the Raiders have met five times. The Raiders lead the series, 4-1: YEAR RESULT 1976 OAKLAND 49, Tampa Bay 16 1981 OAKLAND 18, Tampa Bay 16 1993 L.A. 27, Tampa Bay 20 1996 TAMPA BAY 20, Oakland 17-x 1999 OAKLAND 45, Tampa Bay 0 x-overtime; home team in CAPS