Originally created 01/26/00

Lineups made up of unknowns



ATLANTA -- Welcome to the Super Relocation Bowl in lovely Detroit. Or is this Fargo? Or Butte? This may be the Heart of Dixie, but don't forget to pack a trenchcoat and gloves.

But before we kick off this feeding frenzy week of football information, introductions are in order. So many new faces to Super Tuesday's annual Media Day, that formalities need come first.

Football takes a backseat this Tuesday as we all get acquainted with two of the NFL's most anonymous rosters.

So for the good of the more than 3,000 media representatives in town, and the millions at home, many of whom could not decipher a Devin Bush from an Isaac Byrd, please state your name, your occupation, your employer and the reasons you think you're here playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

We'll start with integral members of the NFC representative, the St. Louis Rams, the franchise with the second-most losses in the 1990s.

London Fletcher, middle linebacker, St. Louis Rams. Schooled at John Carroll University in Cleveland, where he played two years of college. Signed as a free agent in 1998 and made 138 tackles in becoming the Rams' hardest hitter this season.

In ESPN The Magazine preview story concerning the Rams, it stated that if Fletcher was still starting by Halloween, they would buy him a car.

"Well, I want a Ram-blue Mercedes 600," Fletcher said. Now you know why subscription prices just went up.

Kevin Carter, defensive end, St. Louis Rams. Schooled at Florida, where he studied pharmacy and tormented his fare share of Georgia Bulldogs.

Had 17 sacks this season in earning his first Pro Bowl berth, and is the only player from the 1995 NFL Draft to start every game of his career.

Says his coach, Dick Vermeil, between his trail of tears: "Once Kevin sees that the quarterback still has the ball in his hand, it's like a steak to him. He's going after it to take a bite out of it."

Todd Lyght, cornerback, St. Louis Rams. Schooled at Notre Dame under South Carolina savior Lou Holtz, so you should recognize the name, right?

This nine-year veteran is one of the team's five remaining Los Angeles Rams holdovers, and with his contract about to expire, he had a monster season.

"I've been on more bad football teams than most of these guys, so I know how special this is," Lyght said.

Now onto the key cogs for the AFC champion Tennessee Titans, the four-stadium, three-city, two-nickname franchise making their first Super Bowl appearance.

Blaine Bishop, strong safety, Tennessee Titans. Schooled at Ball State, where he was a teammate of Augusta Stallions coach Mike Neu.

Nicknamed "Woody," short for his middle name Elwood, this diminutive eighth-round draft pick with bow legs was called a "bust" by his first position coach.

Voted the toughest player by his teammates, even though he's 5-foot-9, 203 pounds.

Bruce Matthews, offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans. Schooled at USC, where he's spent more time on a football field than any other offensive lineman in NFL history.

This 17-year veteran has played 264 games, 197 consecutively. He's earned 12 Pro Bowl selections at all three lineman slots. He's 38, so old that he and Titans coach Jeff Fisher, 41, were collegiate teammates.

"I realize how blessed I have been," said Matthews, the younger brother of former Falcons and Browns linebacker Clay. "I have a body that can stand the pounding. Finally, one of the Matthews' boys makes the Super Bowl."

Everyone square with the intros? Good. No longer are the protagonists blind in our eyes.

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219.