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Prime Time Does It All

January 29, 1996

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Deion Sanders had it both ways again.

Sanders, the Dallas cornerback who had two catches in spot duty at wide receiver late in the regular season and two more in the playoffs, added a 47-yard grab in the first quarter of the Super Bowl.

The play finished on the Pittsburgh 14-yard line, and led to Troy Aikman’s scoring pass to Jay Novacek for a 10-0 Cowboys lead.

Last year, Sanders helped San Francisco win a Super Bowl. But he said his teammates should get the credit.

``You can’t say that’s the difference,″ Sanders said. ``This team is unbelievable. We have a hell of a coach, Barry Switzer. This defense performs, this offense performs, and that’s the difference.″

Sanders, who signed a $35 million, seven-year contract, also said he’s happy enough in Dallas that his return to baseball is a question mark.

``I love the fans in Dallas,″ he said. ``The baseball situation is up in the air, but I’m happy with what I’m doing.″

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TOUGH TURF: The NFL put new sod in Sun Devil Stadium for the Super Bowl, replacing a field that had been the scene of 18 NFL, college or high school games this season plus the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

But it didn’t seem to help the footing at times.

``It was sort of slippery,″ Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith said.

Troy Aikman slipped at least twice, and the Cowboys changed to shoes with longer cleats in the second half.

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ASTRONAUT REMEMBERED: Few future missions are likely to have as much significance to Air Force Capt. Richard Scobee as his flight over Sun Devil Stadium prior to the Super Bowl kickoff.

Scobee, 31, is the son of Francis ``Dick″ Scobee, who died along with six others when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff 10 years ago Sunday.

Scobee led a flight of four F-16s. As the planes roared overhead, Scobee pulled back the control stick, and his fighter screamed straight up. The other three members of his team from the 78th Fighter Squadron of Shaw AFB in South Carolina continued on in a missing-pilot formation.

Scobee’s fighter, riding 25,000 pounds of thrust, left a vapor trail as it headed west toward the setting sun.

``I am honored to be part of the Super Bowl, and I feel this flyover is a fitting tribute to my dad,″ Scobee said. ``He was a great American to me, not because of the way he died, but because of how he lived.″

Born in Tucson, Ariz., Scobee was a cadet at the Air Force Academy when the Challenger blew up.

Scobee said his father, who died at 46, was an avid football fan. Twenty-two years ago, they watched as Miami defeated Minnesota 24-7 in Houston’s Rice Stadium.

``I know my dad would have loved it,″ Scobee said.

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MVP FOR THE `D’: Of the 27 men chosen MVPs after the 30 Super Bowls, only two are defensive backs. Two interceptions seems to be the qualifying mark.

Miami safety Jake Scott won the award in 1973 after his two interceptions were critical in the Dolphins’ 14-7 win over Washington.

Larry Brown of Dallas became the first cornerback selected after Sunday’s game. His pickoffs of Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell _ and returns of 44 and 33 yards _ killed the Steelers’ chances to come from behind in the second half.

``I didn’t know,″ Brown said on being only the second defensive back chosen. ``I didn’t keep up with the stats. I’m just happy that we won it.″

In the pregame coin flip, Joe Montana represented 24 of the previous 26 MVP winners.

The NFL decided that all previous MVPs should toss the coin, but since that was too many hands, Montana was chosen to represent the group.

Montana, a 16-year NFL veteran, quarterbacked San Francisco to Super Bowl championships in 1982, 1985, 1989 and 1990, winning the bowl’s MVP award the first two times he appeared in it and winning his unprecedented third award in 1990, when the 49ers beat Denver 55-10.

Two other quarterbacks _ Green Bay’s Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh _ are two-time winners.

But Bradshaw was a no-show Sunday, along with former Washington Redskins running back John Riggins.

There are 26 previous winners because defensive linemen Randy White and Harvey Martin shared the honor for Dallas in 1979.

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GOOD PAYDAY: Dallas players made the same money _ $42,000 apiece _ as the winners of last year’s Super Bowl, but the NFL sweetened the reward for the losing Steelers, increasing their share from $26,000 to $27,000 for the third straight pay hike.

That increased the payout to a record $4.4 million for both.

In the first 11 Super Bowls, the winners received $15,000 per player, double what the losers got.

The same ratio was observed for games Nos. 12-16, when each winner’s share was $18,000, and games Nos. 17-27, when winners received $36,000 apiece and players on the runner-up squad made half that.

Two years ago, the amounts were increased to $38,000 and $23,500.

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POPULAR ANTHEM: Pop singer Vanessa William performed the national anthem before the game. She finished to applause, although it couldn’t be determined whether it was for her rendition or the simultaneous Air Force flyover.

It was a far cry from last year’s contest between San Francisco and San Diego in Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium.

Talk show hostess Kathie Lee Gifford, wife of former New York Giants star and ABC-TV color commentator Frank Gifford, sang the anthem and was booed.

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NO ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME: The Cowboys and Steelers deactivated four players each for the game _ defensive tackle Darren Benson, running back Dominique Ross, defensive end Oscar Sturgis and quarterback Jason Garrett for Dallas; and Steelers’ defensive end Taase Faumui, tight end Tracy Greene, center Ariel Solomon and quarterback Jim Miller.

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ARIZONA’S PLACE IN THE SUN: Arizona is the eighth state to be chosen as the site of a Super Bowl, Tempe is the 12th location and second-smallest city, and Sun Devil Stadium is the 14th stadium.

Pasadena, Calif., site of five Super Bowls in the Rose Bowl, is smaller than Tempe, which was supposed to get the 1993 game. That contest was played in the Rose Bowl after NFL owners decided to remove it from Arizona, which had no holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Miami and New Orleans have hosted seven apiece in two different sites each.

At about 1,100 feet, Tempe is the highest Super Bowl site and only the second one at an altitude of more than 1,000 feet. The other was the Georgia Dome (1,050) two years ago.

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