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Buchanan collars attention of media; 'Underdog' garb added to Falcon's 'guarantee'; losses good for Denver; SUPER BOWL XXXIII


MIAMI -- Cornerback Ray Buchanan of the Atlanta Falcons understands what Super Bowl week is all about.

It's not about football, it's about getting noticed on the biggest stage in the sport. It's all about being part of the hype.

That's why he "guaranteed" the Falcons were going to beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII last week.

P.T. Barnum would have understood that. The point is to get the people in the tent. The writers were sure to stop by his podium yesterday at Media Day to check out the guarantee stuff.

"I'm not getting into a lot of trouble about the guarantee. My teammates know me and it's not really a big deal," he said.

Meanwhile, the writers who did check out Buchanan couldn't miss his latest attention-getting ploy. He had a dog collar around his neck.

"I'm doing this in fun. People have us as seven-point underdogs, so I thought I'd put on my dog collar," he said.

"I was talking to a friend of mine and I said 'everybody is calling us underdogs. So I'm going to have a little bit of fun with it and go get a dog collar, put it around my neck and see what they say,' " he said.

"I had to try it on. I didn't want one that would make my eyes bulge out of my head. But I didn't want one that was too loose and looked like an M.C. Hammer gold chain or something. I'm just having a little bit of fun with it. That's just my character. I got everybody laughing, taking pictures of me. See I got you all talking about the dog collar and got your minds off my guarantee."

December lessons

Back-to-back losses in December proved more blessing than curse for the Broncos.

Unbeaten through their first 13 games, the Broncos lost to the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins on the road in consecutive weeks this season.

Amid talk of a perfect season, that brought Denver back to earth in time for the playoff run.

"If you think you're a perfect team in the NFL and that you're going to go undefeated, reality probably isn't one of your virtues," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said yesterday. "Whenever you get knocked off like we did, you start doing the little things better.

"After you have as many consecutive wins as we had, sometimes you forget how close you are to losing a game."

Elway an owner?

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen told the Denver Post this week that he's prepared to offer quarterback John Elway an ownership position with the team if the 16-year veteran retires after the Super Bowl.

"I know if John retires and he's thinking about his future, we'd sit down and talk about him owning a piece of the team," Bowlen said. "I know he doesn't want to be a coach. I think he wants to work here. But I think he probably wants to be a part of the ownership group. I'd welcome him."

Elway was evasive when asked about the report. "I have not been offered that, and I have not talked about that," he said. "That's the first I've heard of it."

Elway has subtly hinted this week he might be persuaded to return to the Broncos if they win Sunday and are in position to seek an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl title.

Experience factor

The Broncos aren't banking on their experience in last year's Super Bowl or Atlanta's lack of experience.

If this is role reversal, Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski can appreciate the Falcons' underdog status.

"We were in the same position last year [against Green Bay]," he said. "I had been here and a few other guys had been here. John had been, but never won. But the majority of the team had never been here and we came out and beat a team that had been Super Bowl champs the prior year.

"This team [Atlanta] went up to Minnesota and beat the team to beat. We're going to have to be at our best to beat this team. They're that good."

Cher to sing anthem

Cher plans to dress up -- completely -- to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

"I want to be really respectful of the song. I will be completely covered," said the 52-year-old diva, who's been known to show some skin during performances. "I probably won't be wearing black spandex. This is the biggest single honor I've ever had."

Like other singers, she has recorded the song with an 80-piece orchestra at the request of game officials. She's not sure whether she will sing it live or lip sync.

"This is my first time. It's a difficult song to sing," said Cher.

Shark sighting

There stood Greg Norman on the smooth, lush grass, examining the texture and wetness of the turf.

He seemed ready to ask his caddie for a 6-iron, except there was no caddie, this was not a golf course and Norman was handling one of his many other jobs.

Riding -- what else? -- a golf cart, Norman visited Pro Player Stadium yesterday to inspect the field for Sunday's Super Bowl.

The field happens to be made of grass grown at the Greg Norman Turf Farm in Avon Park, Fla.

Party pooper

Atlanta linebacker Cornelius Bennett, who went to four consecutive Super Bowls with Buffalo, says there's an easy explanation why the Bills lost all four.

The Bills, he said, were more intent on partying than playing.

"What we did was cheat ourselves and Buffalo fans," Bennett said. "We did everything we could to distract ourselves and get caught up with the Super Bowl hype. It's the biggest party in the world, and we were world-class party people. I look back now and think of it as wasted opportunities."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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