When you wish upon a star...
Disney chose Dilfer over Lewis because of 'feel-good story'
Updated: Tuesday January 30, 2001 12:18 AM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Trent Dilfer was booed out of Florida last year after six lackluster seasons as Tampa Bay's quarterback.
On Monday, Dilfer heard nothing but cheers as he rode in a parade through Walt Disney World, his reward for leading Baltimore in a 34-7 victory over New York in Super Bowl XXXV.
"It's a great feeling," said Dilfer, who completed 12 of 25 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. "This is better than you could ever imagine."
However, Dilfer's appearance at the Magic Kingdom was in risk of being overshadowed by the man who wasn't there: Ray Lewis, the game's most valuable player.
Traditionally, Disney has the Super Bowl MVP star in its postgame commercial, where the athlete says he's going to a Disney theme park, then brings him to the park for a parade the next day.
But for only the fourth time in the advertisement's 15-year history, the MVP was not featured.
Lewis, who had seven tackles and two pass deflections, has been widely criticized for his role in a double murder after last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge in exchange for testimony against his co-defendants and was fined $250,000 by the league, which he is appealing.
Lewis was not mentioned during the parade and Disney introduced Dilfer as "the hero of Super Bowl XXXV."
Disney officials said the fear of bad publicity didn't keep them from inviting Lewis.
"We're looking for a great, emotional story, and Trent Dilfer provided that," Disney spokesman Craig Dezern said. "He had the feel-good story of the Super Bowl. You have a guy who leaves one team and goes as a backup quarterback on another team to winning the Super Bowl. It's a Cinderella story."
Coincidentally, Dilfer's media availability on Monday was held next to Cinderella's castle.
Dilfer said he didn't look at his performance in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium as a spiteful comeback to his Buccaneer detractors.
"It makes it nice because you're able to share it with people that you care deeply for, in front of people that have had a great impact on your life," Dilfer said. "Any time you're able to do it in that type of setting, it makes it a little bit nicer."