Seminole Connection

Former FSU teammates Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson remain good buddies. Weldon couldn't have been happier for Johnson, who helped the Bucs rout the Oakland Raiders in Sunday's Super Bowl. Johnson was one of eight former FSU players in the game, including four on the Bucs -- Dexter Jackson was the game's MVP. "When you know the guys on a personal level like that, it just makes it that much more real. That dreams come true. That's what you want to tell every kid out there," Weldon said Monday.

Casey Weldon figures he will get in touch with good buddy Brad Johnson once the hoopla subsides from the Bucs' Super Bowl victory over Oakland.


Brad Johnson celebrates a TD. (AP/Chris O'Meara)
"I will let it die down first and then get in touch with him – in about four months," Weldon said and laughed Monday. "It's crazy here (Tampa). I keep telling everyone Brad's the same Big Dork (laughing). You know I am just kidding. (He) deserves everything. He's the best."

Johnson is one of four former Florida State players on the Super Bowl champion Bucs, who routed the Raiders 48-21 Sunday night. Johnson, who resides in Tallahassee in the off-season and is married to the former Nikki Richt – younger sister of Georgia head coach Mark Richt -- threw for 215 yards and two scores.

However, he was upstaged by fromer Seminole Dexter Jackson, who returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown to earn the MVP trophy. Jackson, of Quincy, was only the eighth defensive player -- and third defensive back -- to win the MVP award in the 37-year history of this game.


Dexter Jackson returns an interception for a touchdown.
(AP/Paul Sakuma)
Fomer FSU players Derrick Brooks and Greg Spires also contributed, with Brooks returning an interception for a touchdown and Spires helping provide the pressure that rattled Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon..

Weldon, who shared quarterbacking duties at FSU with Johnson, resides in Tampa and is a former Buccaneer himself, couldn't help but feel happy for Johnson and the winning Seminoles. Oakland also featured a quartet of former FSU players – Sebastian Janikowski, Zach Crockett, Tony Bryant (injured reserve) and Derrick Gibson.

Weldon said he tried to telephone Johnson following the game but Johnson's telephone message recorder was already full.


Derrick Brooks returns an interception for a TD.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
"Being a former Buc and then you have all those Seminoles – Spires, Brooks, Brad and Dexter. We were well-represented last night," Weldon said. "It was exciting, nice to see Dexter get the MVP. It's just amazing. When you know the guys on a personal level like that, it just makes it that much more real. That dreams come true. That's what you want to tell every kid out there."

Weldon also believes Johnson played a major role in the Bucs' success this season, especially in the playoffs. The Bucs said all along that their offense shouldn't be overlooked. Tampa Bay ranked 24th in offense, but improved steadily over the last half of the regular season. The Bucs really hit their stride in the playoffs, scoring nine touchdowns on the way to outscoring San Francisco, Philadelphia and Oakland 106-37.

"Brad, once again came out with the chips against him (early interception)," Weldon said.


Greg Spires puts pressure on Oakland's QB Rich Gannon. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
"Just like Philly with the opening kickoff return and early interception, but he just keeps playing and grinding. To me, he is, without a doubt, the Bucs' MVP. They've had that defense for years. They just haven't had the trigger man to put them over the top. Brad did it. He's the one who got hot. His stats over the last eight to 10 games were just incredible. He did it. He was the missing link for sure."

Whatever the Bucs tried seemed to work against the Raiders. And much of that credit went to coach Jon Gruden, acquired from the Raiders last February for four high draft picks and $8 million.

"Brad said he learned more football in this one year than he has his entire NFL career," Weldon said. "Gruden just made everything easy. He says you would be amazed at how easy he see things out on the field. Gruden puts him that formation, the movement. Brad said you would be amazed just how many times it happened just like he drew it up."

And, speaking of impressive performances, Weldon would also like to see the Seminoles get back to their consistent, winning ways. FSU has dropped nine games the past two seasons due to a variety of problems on and off the field. Weldon believes a starting point would be team discipline.

"I don't see it there. I don't see the discipline," Weldon said.

"I just think the kids coming in today expect to be No. 1 and be on top and just... I think they need to come in and be more respectful of the program, the school. More respect for everyone around them and No. 1, respect for coach Bowden and the tradition that he has built."


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