Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs celebrate with franchise transformer Sapp

CANTON, Ohio — Tony Dungy had just finished touring the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his young son Justin, taking in the collection of heroes and memorable moments.

When he emerged and the conversation turned to one of the newest Hall of Famers — Warren Sapp — the former Bucs coach had an even better perspective on what the Tampa Bay great truly achieved.

Put simply, Sapp dominated the game, a rare feat for a man who played defensive tackle, a nonglamorous position that Sapp revolutionized.

That, Dungy said, was "very rare. Just walking through here, you see Merlin Olsen and Joe Greene. There's just a few who could do it from the interior. And he was one of them."

Sapp was joined by family members, former coaches and teammates for a ceremony commemorating his life's work. Each one, in both small and large ways, played a role in helping Sapp achieve that greatness. But Saturday belonged to Sapp, and those associated with the Bucs were most happy for him.

"To be part of it as his head coach, and to see the progression, it's very rewarding," Dungy said. "It's what it's all about."

The list of attendees was a who's who of the franchise. Jon Gruden. Derrick Brooks. Ronde Barber. Shelton Quarles. Members of the Glazer family. Dexter Jackson, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII.

All were in Canton for Sapp's enshrinement, enjoying the ride along with him.

For ownership, the election of Sapp to the Hall is an example of things coming full circle. Shortly after purchasing the team, owner Malcolm Glazer and his sons traveled to Canton to celebrate defensive end Lee Roy Selmon's induction into the Hall in 1995.

Little did they know then that the player who had just become the first draft pick in their stint with the team, Sapp, would go on to the Hall, too.

"Sitting there (Friday) night seeing him get his jacket, just a wave of emotion goes through you because you remember that day when we took him," co-chairman Joel Glazer said. "He was our first pick, and then to see him here, with the greats of the game, it's unbelievable.

"When you look back, I'm just so appreciative that we had a chance to see someone like that play week in and week out. When it's going on, you take it a little for granted."

With the passing of time, it has become easier to see Sapp's uniqueness, others said.

"At times, he could just take over a game, just dominate," general manager Mark Dominik said. "It's extremely unique (for a defensive tackle). That's why he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When you step back and think that there's 267 guys in here, and he's one of them, it's amazing."

Take it from those who played both with and against Sapp, such as former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, who also attended.

"I played against him when I was in Minnesota and Washington, so if you can't beat them, sometimes you want to join them," he said. "He hit me a few times, hard. But I really had great respect for him."

There was so much to the man — the personality, the performance — making Sapp truly a package deal.

"It was not only his play on the field, but the way he did it," Joel Glazer said. "He had an attitude. He had swagger. He had everything that helped transform the franchise, which is what we were looking to accomplish. He was not only a great player, but he danced, he entertained on the field for the fans. He brought it all together."

The Jim Thorps statue stands in the newly redesigned interior rotunda of the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to the Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony on Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Getty Images

The Jim Thorps statue stands in the newly redesigned interior rotunda of the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to the Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony on Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Bucs celebrate with franchise transformer Sapp 08/03/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 4, 2013 12:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'


    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  2. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations


    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)
  3. Rick and Tom podcast: Who will be the Bucs' QB on Sunday?


    Who the Bucs' quarterback will be Sunday against the Bills became clear as mud as Jameis Winston hasn't thrown all week but will take all the practice reps today.

    Will Ryan Fitzpatrick start for the Bucs Sunday in Buffalo?
  4. College football viewing guide, Week 8


    Miami quarterback Malik Rosier (12) hands off to running back Travis Homer (24) during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  5. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida


     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.