The name Dorsett is a familiar one for collectors who latched on to the running back's success during his National Football League career a generation ago.
Tony Dorsett , who won a Heisman Trophy at Pitt and earned a Super Bowl championship with the Dallas Cowboys, was the focal point of a successful running game with "America's Team."
Now his son Anthony is in the spotlight with a chance to follow in his father's footsteps if he can become a Super Bowl hero and thrust himself into the collectors' limelight. The burden of having a famous father, is that he could also fail and become an asterisk on a list, as one of the select few who have had a father-son combination play in the NFL's biggest game.
Dorsett is on the spot this Sunday for the Tennessee Titans who will battle the St.Louis Rams in chilly Atlanta in what most considered one of the most unlikely matchups in the 33 previous Super Bowls. The spotlight has focused on Dorsett even though he didn't figure to be a key performer for the AFC Champion Titans.
Dorsett, in his fourth season, will start for the Titans at safety due to a key injury to Marcus Robertson. Injuries are common place late in the playoffs but this one probably is the most severe to the Titans' championship hopes.
The Rams' high powered offense, led by quarterback Kurt Warner, relies on an aerial circus, few have been able to match coming into this Super Bowl. On the other hand, the Titans' secondary was particularly effective in shutting down Jacksonville's Mark Brunell last week en route to the Big Game.
With Robertson out, however, the pressure falls on Dorsett, who hardly has the same credentials in his position as either his father or Robertson. Originally a running back, the younger Dorsett explained that he'd "rather dish out the banging than receive it," so he switched to defense. He'll be severely tested by Warner and the Rams' fleet group of receivers led by all-pro Isaac Bruce.''
FYI for Collectors:
Dorsett's appearance will mark the third father-son appearance in the history of the Super Bowl. The most recent was last year when Brian Griese got into the game for the two-time defending champion Denver Broncos, following the footsteps of father Bob who played for the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, VIII, VIII. The more obscure pairing and a boon for collectors who have memorabilia or autographs of this tandem was defensive tackle Frank Cornish, a teammate of Griese's in Super Bowl VI, and his son, Frank, Jr., a center who played for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII.
The Warner-Dorsett matchup is not only the most critical but figures to be the most interesting heading into the game Sunday night.
The other two critical ones feature the all purpose running back power of Marshall Faulk of the Rams and the power running game of Eddie George of the Titans.
The Tampa Bay Bucs were able to keep Faulk bottled up, holding him around 100 fewer total yards than his average. In the first meeting between Tennessee and St. Louis during the regular season, Faulk wound up with about 175 total yards.
Jeavon Kearse, Tennessee's all pro outside linebacker, will be in charge of trying to contain Faulk, particularly in the short passing game the Rams love to employ when their long game stalls. Faulk is a dangerous receiver catching the ball, especially what he does AFTER he catches it. It will be up to Kearse to try to prevent Faulk from breaking any big plays.
On the Titans' side, the running of George helped get the Titans to where they are. The key to stopping George is to bottle him at the line of scrimmage. The Rams' defensive front four has been an overlooked group this season and all-pro Kevin Carter will lead the unit as they attempt to contain George, particularly early in the game. If the Titans fall behind or their running game stalls, they will be forced to go to the pass and the Tennessee' aerial attack has been their Achilles heel all season long.
Again, the close Super Bowls often can come down to the kicking game. Veteran Al Del Greco has been tested in big games and is healthy while Rams; kicker Jeff Wilkens has been nursing a bad leg throughout the playoffs. He missed a 41 yarder against the Bucs that would have given them more of a cushion during the last minutes of last Sunday's NFC championship. His status could also affect Coach Dick Vermeil's game calling decisions, particularly on fourth down situations in the opponents' territory.
The coaching matchup is also a critical one. Vermeil has been to the Super Bowl as Eagles coach before with the and knows the pressure of a game like this. Fisher merited coach of the year honors this year for guiding a previously .,500 club into the championship game, but hasn't been in this type of pressure cooker before. Vermeil may have an edge if the game comes down to some fourth quarter decisions.
Best bet, however, is the AFC as I predict it will continue to show its recent dominance and give the Titans a Super Bowl championship, increasing the value of those old, dusty Houston Oilers' collectors items from the early 1960's, as fans reminisce about the team as it was and glory in the Titans as the may become.
Editor's Note -- Tony Dorsett Jr.'s sportscards have yet to be rated by the SMR. If he has a career-high performance during the Super Bowl, that could change quickly. However, it is less common for a Safety to be listed in market value listings, than a quarterback, receiver, etc.