The artist formally known as Prince sang "let's party til it's 1999" which should take us up to the real party scheduled on January 31, 1999, in south Florida, when they hold Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player Stadium.
The NFL named the site recently (tying South Florida with new Orleans as the most frequent Super Bowl sites -- eight) and named Tampa as the home for Super Bowl XXXV in the year 2001.
Now the big question is, will the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers be anywhere near ready to play in their own back yard party by then?
The Dolphins should be, based on head coach Jimmy Johnsonıs history. It took J.J. just three years to turn around a 1-15 Dallas Cowboys franchise into a Super Bowl winner: and that was "with less talent" than he said he inherited in Miami.
The Dolphins have struggled through a tough 1996 season. However, keep in mind that Johnson is starting six rookies and has had to play three games without quarterback Dan Marino (who suffered a fracture in his right foot against the Colts). In spite of these facts, the Miami still finished the first half of the season with a 4-4 record. Now with Marino back, Jimmy Johnson expects his club to win a few more games, perhaps enough to make the playoffs and build a great foundation for the future heading into next yearıs draft and a free agency.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also playing this season under a new coach, Tony Dungy. They may have farther to go, but the Bucs also have two more years than the Dolphins before they host a Super Bowl for the third time (in a new stadium to begin construction soon). Dungy and his Bucs took a few games to get adjusted to each other, but continue to improve every time they take the field. The Bucs have already won against the likes of Minnesota and have played well against Green Bay and Chicago of late.
Errict Rhett is back after taking the first seven games of the season off. Rhettıs return, along with the improved play of quarterback Trent Dilfer and the Buc defense, should help Tampa Bay to finish this season with plenty to build on for the future.
What a tremendous start! And who would have thought... When the season started my belief was that the Panthers early season schedule was their toughest in their four NHL seasons. Four games with the New York Rangers, three games with the Flyers and a game with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche... all in their first 13 starts.
They have held their own haven't they?
The Panthers begin their third road trip Sunday night in Philadelphia before strangely meeting the Rangers in New York Tuesday in what will be the team's fourth meeting and were not yet done with the first month of the season.
For Doug McLean and the Panthers its a cliché... But they play them one game at a time... and let's hope they keep it going.