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Former Buc Sapp charms the 'Dancing' judges

Ex-Buc Warren Sapp and his partner Kym Johnson whirl through the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars on Monday.


Ex-Buc Warren Sapp and his partner Kym Johnson whirl through the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars on Monday.

This is the thought that needled me, like an itchy sweater, just after the two-hour deluge of recaps and musical performances in Tuesday's Dancing With the Stars results episode ended — leaving former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warren Sapp planted squarely in next week's finals.

Could a 300-pound former professional football star actually win this thing?

If he does, it won't be because Sapp is the best dancer left among the three celebrities still in competition. That honor belongs to actress/model Brooke Burke, who has consistently stunned the crowd — and critics who remember her leaden performances as an actor. Her only misstep came Monday, in an awesomely awkward jive dance that was so unexpectedly awful, I wondered if she didn't screw up on purpose just to make the show more interesting.

No, Sapp could win because he has that something — an easy charm that almost makes you overlook the way he tiptoes through dance steps so gingerly, you can almost hear him counting the moves in his head. Or the comfortable shoes he's begun wearing on some numbers which look like half-price pleather sneakers stolen from the back rack at Payless.

But he has got some serious competition. N'Sync-er Lance Bass notched a personal best Monday, whipping out a jitterbug that earned top scores — even as one of his shoes flew off during his fancy footwork. Hannah Montana co-star Cody Linley was less consistent, starting the week with a dance that inexplicably played into his worst quality — a tendency to look stiff onstage — leading to his ejection from the show Tuesday night.

But my biggest critical barbs are saved for whatever genius at ABC turned Tuesday's results show into a two-hour ordeal, packed with an oversize load of distractions that had little or nothing to do with the actual competition.

Forget the first hour, which was mostly a rebroadcast of Monday's dance performances. Did we really need three kiddie couples competing in a pint-size version of the contest? Or a way oversize Aretha Franklin wheezing through two tunes wearing something that looked like an aluminum foil-covered tent?

Dancer Julianne Hough was courageous, gamely launching into a tune from her country album on an evening which included performances by Franklin, John Legend and Leona Lewis. And am I the only one who finds it distracting to have major musical stars singing in the background during dance numbers?

If this contest mostly comes down to dance skill, Sapp is heading home early next week, making room for a Bass-Burke showdown. But the judges seem to love Sapp's rough charm, and hospital recovery rooms are filled with NFL quarterbacks who learned the hard way that you never count the man out. I wonder how many football fans are watching Dancing With the Stars these days?

Former Buc Sapp charms the 'Dancing' judges 11/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 11:21pm]
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