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TITANS' MATTHEWS FINALLY ENDS FAMILY CURSE

Bruce Matthews has heard about it. He's probably even seen it on television. Now he'll get to see for himself that there really is this thing called the Super Bowl.

Matthews, a guard for the Titans, has played 264 regular-season games, more than any other offensive lineman in NFL history. He has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls. Now, finally, he will make the Super Bowl.

His brother Clay was a longtime standout with the old Cleveland Browns but never made it, and his father Clay Sr. played with the San Francisco 49ers before the Super Bowl existed. Matthews said he is "ending the Matthews family curse."

"I never thought that it would happen, but I kind of sold myself on the idea that it wasn't that important," Matthews said. "To watch other teams playing in the championships and going to the Super Bowl every year, you build up a barrier more than anything.

"But it's nice."

Matthews gives quarterback Steve McNair much of the credit for getting Tennessee to the Super Bowl.

"You know he's going to find a way to make plays," Matthews said. "He's a lineman's best friend. I can't tell you how many times he has saved me, when I've gotten beaten on a pass rush."

The Titans likely will be without two key players for the Super Bowl. Safety Marcus Robertson suffered a fractured fibula and wide receiver Yancey Thigpen a fractured right foot, both in the second quarter.

Robertson was replaced by Anthony Dorsett and Thigpen by a combination of Isaac Byrd, Chris Sanders and Derrick Mason.

Anthony's father, Tony, won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys in 1978. The Dorsetts will attempt to become the second father-son tandem to win the Super Bowl, joining Bob and Brian Griese.

"My dad has the ring, and I don't," said the younger Dorsett. "I would like to be able to sit at the kitchen table with him and show off my ring just like the way he shows off his to me. That would be nice, real nice."

Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was the biggest victim among about 15 NFL players who lost $15 million in a fraudulent investment scheme, according to the Miami Herald.

Taylor lost his entire $5 million signing bonus -- more than $3 million after taxes -- from the six-year contract he signed as a rookie in 1998 after investing in the Ponzi scheme by agent William "Tank" Black.

Aside from Taylor, former University of Florida stars Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green and Ike Hilliard lost money in the scheme. So did former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, who is in a Charlotte, N.C., jail charged with the first-degree murder of his pregnant girlfriend.

McNair will be the second black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. Doug Williams led Washington to a Super Bowl victory in 1987.

"Organizations these days are looking for people that can run their teams and get the job done," McNair said. "We have some great black quarterbacks in the NFL but people have to realize that this is something we've all dreamed about -- white and black -- since we were kids, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

McNair passed for just 112 yards on Sunday, certainly manageable. But he also ran for 91 more, scoring two touchdowns and frustrating Jacksonville's defense over and over again. This is a guy who showed up in Jacksonville on Friday with a protective boot on his left foot because of the bad toe. He was listed as questionable for the game.

"He was hurting all week," tight end Frank Wycheck said. "At one point during the week, he couldn't even touch his toe without it killing him."

Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell says his second bad performance in the AFC title game cost his team the game.

"We lost, I played bad," Brunell said. "That's the way it works in this business. If the quarterback plays well, there's a 90 percent chance you're going to win. My job is to win, and it didn't happen today. Regardless of any numbers, we didn't play good enough."

Brunell finished 19 for 38 for 226 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

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