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Rams? Patriots? Everybody's got an opinion
By David Nielsen
Scripps Howard News Service

It's time again for that annual gridiron spectacle -- no, not the Super Bowl -- the Scripps Howard Celebrity Super Bowl Poll. Personalities from the worlds of entertainment, politics and sports make their picks for Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVI between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots in New Orleans.

PAUL NEWMAN, legendary actor: The Patriots will win 87 to 3. I'm betting my house!

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD'S SECRETARY: He said he hasn't been following football lately. He's been a little busy.

Jordan vs. Cuban
MICHAEL JORDAN, NBA star, Washington Wizards: Obviously the favorite is the Rams. But for whatever reason, New England looks like it has things working in its favor. It should be a good one. I've got friends on both sides, so I'm up in the air right now.

MARK CUBAN, owner, Dallas Mavericks: The Rams look unstoppable, which is why I pick the Patriots, 29-28.

JORDAN, reacting to Cuban's pick: He should be fined $500,000.

AHMAD RASHAD, TV personality and former NFL star: St. Louis. There is no question they are the best in the game and one of the best of all time, 35-10.

BARRY WILLIAMS, actor, Greg Brady on "The Brady Bunch": This one's easy. The Patriots because any team with a Brady has got to go the distance. We call (Tom) the fourth Brady. Not many people knew about him growing up because we kept him off camera. 34-28.

JOHN WOODEN, legendary UCLA coach: The Rams. I think they're better all-around in all areas. They're well-balanced. I believe balance is one of the most important things we can have: physical, emotional, offense, defense, special teams.

RED AUERBACH, legendary Boston Celtics coach: I'm rooting for the Patriots, but it's hard to pick them because they're such a big underdog. But, hey, everybody always thought (Rocky) Marciano was going to get the crap knocked out of him and he kept winning and winning. Patriots, 14-7.

BILL O'REILLY, author, talk show host, and former Marist College QB and kicker: The Rams are just too fast and too quick for the Patriots to keep up with them. 30-10.

CURT SCHILLING, World Series hero, Arizona Diamondbacks: The Rams are better. 35-14.

SCOTT ADAMS, cartoonist, "Dilbert": My issue with the Patriots is that New England isn't a city. They're so indecisive that they named the team after an entire region. That shows a lack of confidence that will result in punts on fourth and inches. St. Louis, on the other hand, decisively named their team after a type of computer memory. Those guys are smart. I predict that St. Louis will win by 40 points.

The Castaways (and friend)
BOB DENVER, actor, Gilligan on "Gilligan's Island": The Rams by 10. They're just a little more powerful than New England.

RUSSELL JOHNSON, actor, The Professor on "Gilligan's Island": Well, both of my teams lost. I'm from Pennsylvania so I was looking for the Steelers and the Eagles. So I really don't give a damn. But the obvious favorite is St. Louis.

DAWN WELLS, actress, Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island": St. Louis by 17. Their offense is better. Marshall Faulk is outstanding. Their defense is improved. And they're an L.A. team. I was against them the first three years because they left us. But now, of course, since we have no team, I've come back.

AL LEWIS, Grandpa on "The Munsters": St. Louis. Maybe by two touchdowns. They're used to winning. New England is not, although Belichick has done a great job. But he's hated in Cleveland.

JOHN O'HURLEY, J. Peterman on "Seinfeld": New England, 24-17, and after they win, I want them to put on Red Sox uniforms and take a shot at the baseball season.

CARL YASTRZEMSKI, Hall of Famer, Boston Red Sox: The Patriots. It kind of reminds me of the Impossible Dream team in 1967 that I was on. Nobody gave us a shot. I'm also pulling for Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick who are both friends of mine.

OZZIE SMITH, Hall of Famer, St. Louis Cardinals: The Rams by two touchdowns. They're the total package.

YOGI BERRA, legendary New York Yankee: That's easy. St. Louis. It's where I grew up. By a touchdown.

LUIS GONZALEZ, World Series hero, Arizona Diamondbacks: The Rams because of their Astroturf offense and their stellar defense. 38-13.

JAMIE LYNN-SIGLER, actress, Meadow on "The Sopranos": I think New England will win because ever since I sang the national anthem for them, they haven't lost!

ELISABETH SHUE, actress: The Rams. They're a better team. (Kurt Warner), I love his story. 28-13.

BOBBY THOMSON, former N.Y. Giants baseball player who in 1951 hit "Shot Heard 'Round the World": The Patriots. I'm rooting for Bill Belichick. I've always liked Belichick. Obviously the Rams are the favorite. But I'm going with my heart.

RALPH BRANCA, former Dodger who threw the famous pitch to Thomson: Rams 31, Patriots 24. Experience, they've been there before.

OTTO GRAHAM, Hall-of-Fame quarterback: I've been around long enough to know it's impossible to predict. All I know is what I read in the paper, and a lot of time that's a lot of bull anyway. But my wife picks the Rams. That's a sure thing.

EDDIE MURRAY, future baseball Hall-of-Famer: Rams, because they have an awful lot of speed on both sides of the ball and because they're playing on artificial turf. The Super Dome is almost like a home game for them.

MARTIN MILNER, actor, Pete Malloy on "Adam-12": I think the Rams are going to win big. Everybody feels that way. 28-7.

BRUCE MCGILL, actor, D-Day in "Animal House": Rams, because they have more weapons in their arsenal and a varied offense. And because they've been there. 28-14.

PHYLLIS DILLER, comedienne: Football scores don't get very high, do they? The Patriots, 27-14.

CARROT TOP, comedian: Patriots. The world has never been more "patriotic." The year of the upsets! Brady/Bledsoe & Co. in the snow under the dome will Ram it home for the "American" Football Conference. 27-24.

USHER, hip-hop star: New England. They have a much better defense. 28-17.

Beautiful Minds
KATIE HARMAN, Miss America: The Patriots. Because I'm Miss America and I'm feeling very patriotic. 30-20.

KANDACE KRUEGER, Miss USA: St. Louis. The Patriots obviously have a quarterback issue and the Rams offense is pretty much unstoppable. 38-14.

HALEY JOEL OSMENT, actor: Patriots. They're far from favored, but sometimes if you are an extreme underdog that will make you play hard enough to win. 27-24.

BERNARD GOLDBERG, author of "Bias," No. 1 book on N.Y. Times best-seller list: Good luck and all my best to Pat Summerall. St. Louis 34, New England 17.

SCOTT TUROW, best-selling author: The Rams. Too many weapons. It doesn't look anybody can keep them from scoring. 38-30.

ROD STEIGER, actor: The Rams are going to win because of their quarterback who has reacted wonderfully under pressure. 21-15.

DENNIS FARINA, actor: The Patriots. They want it more, they're the underdog and they're going to fight a little more to win. They've got a lot of juice going for them. 28-14.

ROBERT STACK, actor: My wife and I are friends and neighbors of (Rams owner) Georgia Frontiere. Whenever the Rams are playing, we're for them.

MERV GRIFFIN, entertainer/entrepreneur: The St. Louis Rams will win 34-17. Then, after they win, Georgia (Frontiere) will be able to resume her singing lessons!

JACK VALENTI, President, Motion Picture Association of America: The Rams because Warner and Faulk are the NFL's top superstars. 29-17.

AARON SPELLING, television producer: Rams, 20-10. I guarantee that one of the teams will win!

CONNIE STEVENS, singer/director: Patriots, 31-20. Why? Because it's destiny!

Politically Incorrect
SEN. EDWARD M. "TED" KENNEDY, D-Mass.: The Patriots have defied long odds all season, and they'll do so again this Sunday. The Rams have an excellent team, and their quarterback was the league's MVP, but we all know that having two great quarterbacks is better than one. More importantly, this year of all years, a team with the name "Patriots" has an extra advantage that can make all the difference.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-Mo.: Rams by 1. We have great respect for the New England Patriots and their coach.

REP. DICK ARMEY, R-Texas, brother of Rams' general manager Charley Armey: Rams, early and often.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: Rams, 28-10.

REP. TOM DELAY, R-Texas: I like the Cowboys.

SUSAN ANTON, singer/actress: Patriots. I love an underdog. I think the "X-factor" here is the quarterback position. There is the rookie and the veteran. This could prove to be a powerful one-two punch for New England. If the Rams' Kurt Warner gets injured, then St. Louis will be in a difficult position. New England, 21-20.

DR. JOYCE BROTHERS: For psychological, not sports reasons, I think the New England Patriots because they're not the favorites. I don't know the point spread because I don't gamble. But in every study of performance -- whether it's performance in life or performance on stage or on the football field or any sport -- a person who is very sure of himself or herself is much more likely not to do as well as a person who is fully prepared but a little scared.

JEANETTE LEE AKA "THE BLACK WIDOW", pool player: I guess the odds favor the Rams because they've had the best defense and the best quarterback, but it sure is nice to see the underdog make it to the Super Bowl. With my experience in pool, I never count anyone out. Never.

CAMMI GRANATO, U.S. Olympic hockey captain: My (hockey) team is a New England team and they've been rubbing it in my face since the teams I like, Chicago and Oakland, lost. So I'm definitely going for St. Louis.

STACY DRAGILA, woman's pole vault world-record holder, gold medalist: I really was rooting for those 49ers, but they didn't quite get there. Next year watch out! New England, 33-28.

LENNY KRAYZELBURG, triple swimming gold medalist in 2000 Sydney Olympics: I still can't believe the Raiders are not in the Super Bowl. The Pats have had a nice run this year, but they won't be able to stop the power of the Rams offense.

MICHAEL PHELPS, youngest male swimming world-record holder: Rams, without a doubt. Their offense is just too strong. I don't think the Patriots have a chance. 24-14.

AL OERTER, four-time Olympic gold medalist in discus: I picked New England against Pittsburgh, and I don't think they have a chance this weekend, but I'm still picking them anyway, 21-20.

MIKE POWELL, long jump world-record holder: Rams big! Because they have one of the most explosive offenses, and they're playing on an artificial surface, and New England's luck has run out. 34-10.

SHERYL SWOOPES, WNBA star: New England. I always like the underdog.

PETE SAMPRAS, tennis star: The Rams have too much offense. St. Louis, 30-14.

ANDY RODDICK, tennis star: The Rams are the best team of all time. St. Louis, 35-20.

PATRICK MCENROE, U.S. Davis Cup captain: New England is going to pull the big upset. Pats, 31-28.

TODD MARTIN, tennis star: I'm going with the upset. Patriots, 24-20.

TRENT KLASNA, professional bicycle racer: New England because Drew Bledsoe is totally awesome. 28-17.

LEEZA GIBBONS, TV host, "Extra": Being a sports neophyte, I usually root for the colors of the teams. You know, fashion/football -- it's pretty much all the same to me. So this year I'm going with the Patriots since it's so 'trend of the moment' to be in red, white and blue. Patriots: 36-24-36.

JON KELLEY, TV reporter, "Extra": Kurt Warner and the Rams because how can you cheer against a guy who gives his mom equal air time on a national soup commercial?

JUDGE GREG MATHIS, TV host of "Judge Mathis": St. Louis. The Rams have the best offensive combination in the league with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk.

LYNNE KOPLITZ, TV host of "Change of Heart": I'm going with the Patriots because I think Coach Belichick is going to have a 'change of heart' and start that sensitive quarterback, cute Drew, who got so emotional after the last game. But I think it will be a close one. My prediction -- 2 to 1!

JENNY JONES, talk show host: I'm betting on the Rams to win because, frankly, I thought they were still in L.A. Oh well, at least we still have the Raiders!

FRANK NICOTERO, TV host of "Street Smarts": Bill Belichick proved he is a defensive genius against my beloved hometown Steelers. He'll come up with something to bring down the Chunky Soup boy and the Patriots will win 34-28 with special teams.

BRAD STAGGS, TV host, DIY Network: Even though St. Louis is favored by 14, I'm taking the Pats by a final score of either 31-28 or 28-24.

SHARI HILLER, TV co-host of "Room by Room," HGTV: Definitely the Rams. Kurt Warner is very hot (in more ways than one, if you know what I mean). St. Louis itself is a very important city to me, and it brings back fond memories. I purchased my favorite living room sofa on a trip through St. Louis. So, there's another reason ... the city has great taste in furniture! 34-14.

MATT FOX, TV co-host of "Room by Room", HGTV: New England. The primary reason that I'm selecting New England is because Shari has picked the Rams. 38-34.

BONNIE-JILL LAFLIN, actress: Rams. No one can beat them! They have an explosive offense with a great running and passing game. Their defense is strong and that will keep the Patriots scoring to a minimum. 35-13.

JAKE THOMAS, actor, "Lizzie McGuire": Rams by two touchdowns. My favorite quarterback is Peyton Manning, but since he isn't in the Super Bowl my second favorite quarterback is Kurt Warner! Rams rock!

STEVE VALENTINE, British actor, "Crossing Jordan": New England. Whilst I like anything with the word 'Ram' in it (it goes back to my childhood, don't ask!) I am an 'OLDE ENGLAND PATRIOT' so I feel a kinship. Of course it doesn't hurt that they kick bum. A tight game but the underdog gets the bone. 12-10.

BARRY VAN DYKE, actor: Rams by 14.

JANE WOOSTER SCOTT, painter: St. Louis, 28-17, because Marshall Faulk is going to be unstoppable.

PENN JILLETTE, magician: Rams.

ACE ROSS, teen clothing designer and manufacturer: The Patriots will surprise everyone -- including themselves -- with a 24 to 21 win over the overconfident Rams.

SIMON REX, actor: St. Louis. Because I don't know any of the players from the other team. And the St. Louis helmets are better -- that usually makes a team better. 37-14.