Former BYU punter Lee Johnson isn't one to not count his blessings, or his good timing.
"I've got to the luckiest player in the league," he says on the eve of Super Bowl XXIII. "I went from Houston to Cleveland last year and I wound up in the AFC championship game with Cleveland. Now I go from Cleveland to Cincinnati and I'm in the Super Bowl. For a player who's been waived left and right each year, to get on a Super Bowl or Super Bowl-caliber team is very unique, very unusual, especially to come in and have such a semi-role and move up to a larger role."Johnson, an All-American punter at BYU who has been with four teams in the four years since he left BYU, was signed by the Bengals as a free agent for the sole purpose of handling kickoff duties. But when punter Scott Fulhage was injured, Johnson took over. He has proceeded to enjoy his best year ever as a pro.
"I'm a firm believer in being able to do whatever they want me to do," he says. "I can throw the ball too, if they want that."
San Francisco 49ers center Randy Cross explained why he's retiring after his 13th season concludes with Sunday's Super Bowl: "This year and last year hurt more than any of the others," he said. "Go ahead, pick a joint. In the insurance business they call it cumulative trauma."
Cincinnati Bengals Coach Sam Wyche was the San Francisco 49ers quarterback coach for the 1981 Super Bowl, the last time the Bengals and 49ers met for the NFL title.
He talked this week about his relationship with 49ers Coach Bill Walsh. "I was Bill's whipping boy in tennis," Wyche said. "And I was his sounding board when he had an idea. If I didn't like it, it was put in the game plan right away."
Les Boatwright, a lifelong 49er fan who died in San Francisco Monday with two Super Bowl tickets in his pocket and plans to fly to Miami for Sunday's game, will be going anyway. Les's sons, Marc and John Boatwright, will be in Joe Robbie Stadium, with their father's ashes in a urn.
"This is the way he'd have wanted it," said Marc Boatwright, explaining that his dad only missed two Super Bowls since the first game was played in 1967.
After the game, Marc said he and his brother will bring their father's ashes back to California and scatter them over the Pacific.
Offensive linemen Max Montoya and Anthony Munoz of the Bengals are Mexican-Americans who have been widely sought-after in Miami this week, where Spanish-speaking radio and TV stations abound.
There's just been one problem.
Neither one speaks Spanish.
Munoz was born and raised in Ontario, Calif., and Montoya in Montebello, Calif. Their roots to Mexico are distant. "I can't speak Spanish, but I can cook it," said Montoya to a Spanish-speaking sportscaster, through an interpreter.
San Francisco coach Bill Walsh, long acclaimed as an offensive innovator, said you can trace his roots back to veteran coach Sid Gillman. "Our offensive style goes back to the Oakland Raider-style of the mid-60s," Walsh said. "A lot of things we do were done at that time, and that goes back to Sid Gillman football. Sid Gillman developed a system using all receivers that are eligible on most plays.
"We use our backs and tight ends as our main receivers so much of the time. We look for those kind of matchups more than some other teams. We've sort of retained our own style and made it a bit moe sophisticated. So you'll see us not using the shotgun. You'll see us most often with two backs and a tight end. It's what we know, what we do best, and we've had good results."