The Tampa Bay Buccaneers marvel at the poise and confidence Shaun King shows on the field. Many Buccaneers seem to take their on-field cue from Coach Tony Dungy's calm sideline demeanor, but the rookie quarterback in particular has drawn frequent comparisons to Dungy, a onetime University of Minnesota quarterback.
"I would like to think people see some of him in me," King said. "If that's the case, I must be living my life pretty well."
Like Dungy, King is deeply religious. Whenever King, 22, was asked this week about the pressures of being a rookie playing in the NFC semifinals here Saturday against the Washington Redskins, he usually alluded to his faith. "I'm not a rookie, I'm a child of God," he said. "I draw strength from Him."
The Bucs quickly have gained faith in King, who will be attempting to become the first rookie quarterback to win a playoff game since Pat Haden guided the Los Angeles Rams to a 14-12 divisional playoff victory at Dallas in 1976.
Todd Marinovich was the last rookie quarterback to start in the postseason when the Los Angeles Raiders lost a wild-card game at Kansas City in 1991. At the time, Dungy was the defensive backs coach for the Chiefs.
"We were playing at home and had the crowd noise," Dungy said. "You're going to try and rattle the quarterback no matter who you play. But beating us is not just a matter of trying to rattle Shaun King, and I think he'll do fine. I don't think it will be any different for him than any of these last few games that we've played."
King was not supposed to take a snap this season, but has gone 4-1 as a starter since replacing injured quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Eric Zeier on Nov. 28. King was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the month for December after leading the Bucs to their first division title since 1981.
King, who grew up in nearby St. Petersburg, attended Tulane after recruiters from the University of Florida and Florida State deemed the 6-foot player too small. Now, with the Buccaneers unlikely to pick up the option on the final two years of Dilfer's contract, King probably will enter next season as the starter.
Following a Routine
The Bucs had a light workout this morning. They checked into a downtown hotel this evening, as they usually do the night before regular season games. . . . Defensive tackle Warren Sapp pronounced himself fit after sitting out Thursday's practice. Sapp had woken up Thursday morning with a sore hamstring. "I'm fine," Sapp said. "A pack of wild dogs couldn't keep me out of this game."