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Sapp moves, grooves in 'Dancing' debut

22

September

Sapp1 Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive star Warren Sapp made a bit of a splash during tonight's debut of ABC's hit reality competition Dancing With the Stars -- landing near the top of the competition with a spirited cha cha that earned 21 points and brought the crowd to its feet.

"Big boys can dance," exclaimed excitable judge Bruno Tonioli after the performance by Sapp, who stepped confidently around partner Kym Johnson to the strains of Stevie Wonder's hit Do I Do. "You showed us all."

Given 21 points by the judges, Sapp and Johnson now must depend on votes from the audience to stay in the game. In a new twist, one of the show's 13 couples will be ejected Tuesday night, and a second pair will leave Wednesday. Sapp's score placed him in the top of the middle, tied with beach volleyball Olympic champion Misty May-Treanor and behind singer Lance Bass, TV host BrookSapp3e Burke and R&B diva Toni Braxton.

Comic Jeffrey Ross, who suffered a scratched cornea after his dance partner poked him in the eye during a rehearsal, earned the lowest score for a lumbering routine that didn't seem that much worse for his lack of sight. Eighty-something actor Cloris Leachman earned the only bleeps from the ABC censors, cursing her low score (16) just minutes after host Tom Bergeron announced "I have this image of ABC censors doing tequila shots to get ready for (her)."

After one night's competition Burke and Bass seem the two to beat, with Sapp poised for an Emmitt Smith-style upset. Sapp was uncharacteristically silent for much of tonight's show, confessing a serious case of nerves. (Photos of Sapp's rehearsals courtesy of ABC)

"I hope I just survive right now," he said, just after finishing his dance. "My feet are shaking so bad."

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:51pm]

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