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SUPER BOWL NOTEBOOK

Screen play in Panthers' favor

The Panthers were victorious in the PlayStation2 version of the Super Bowl Wednesday night. If recent history is a guide, that may mean a Carolina win over New England Sunday.

The simulated contest, staged between receivers Steve Smith of the Panthers and Troy Brown of the Patriots, ended in a 29-21 decision for Carolina. The showdown took place before several hundred media members at a Houston hotel.

The winning team in 989 Sports's annual "Game Before The Game" has won the Super Bowl the past eight years.

"I hope we keep the streak alive," said Smith.

The star of the game was Carolina running back Stephen Davis, who scored four touchdowns. Smith also made a key contribution with a third-down catch in the final minute.

"It was just good coaching," Smith joked to reporters.

Brown won the event two years ago, a foreshadowing of the Patriots' 20-17 win over St. Louis in 2002. This time, Brown hopes the Super Bowl has a different outcome from the video game.

"I'm ready for the real deal," said Brown.

Flag bearers

Ed Hochuli will referee Sunday's Super Bowl, along with two other members of his regular-season crew, which was the top rated in the NFL this season.

Head linesman Mark Hittner and field judge Tom Sifferman also served on Hochuli's crew and will officiate in Houston. The remainder of Sunday's crew are umpire Jeff Rice, line judge Ben Montgomery, side judge Laird Hayes, and back judge Scott Green. All ranked highest at their positions.

Wolf returns to NFL

Ron Wolf revived the Packers, building them into Super Bowl champions. The Browns are hoping he can help do the same for them. Wolf was hired as a personnel specialist, giving Cleveland some much-needed NFL experience in its personnel department. Wolf retired after the 2001 season and worked as a consultant for Green Bay the last two years. He turned down several offers to return to the NFL as a full-time general manager . . . Titans left tackle Brad Hopkins was added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster, replacing Willie Roaf of the Chiefs. This will be Hopkins's second Pro Bowl. The 11-year veteran is the fifth Titans player headed to the Feb. 8 contest in Honolulu, joining quarterback Steve McNair, receiver Derrick Mason, punter Craig Hentrich, and linebacker Keith Bulluck . . . Browns running back William Green was denied a request to reunite with his fiancee, who is accused of stabbing him. Judge Maureen Adler Gravens said she needed more information about Green's treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and fiancee Asia Gray's felony assault case in another court. Gray has pleaded innocent to stabbing the former Boston College star in the back with a steak knife Nov. 19, 2003. Green did not attend the hearing. Green was suspended from the NFL after he was charged with drunken driving and marijuana possession Oct. 27 . . . Jeff Jagodzinski, BC's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 1997-98, was named tight ends coach for the Falcons . . . Larry Brooks joined the Lions as defensive line coach, continuing his affiliation with defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. Brooks was Chicago's defensive line coach under head coach Jauron this season . . . Quarterback Greg Zolman, who spent last season on Tampa Bay's practice squad, was one of five free agents signed by the Bills. Another was offensive tackle Jasen Esposito, who was released by the Patriots last summer.

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