Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Humbled Sapp at Hall of Fame: 'I'm home'

CANTON, Ohio — Warren Sapp visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in March, touring the museum where his bust would one day reside among the game's best.

"I took a little sip because I knew I was coming back to get a full gulp," Sapp said.

Sapp, 40, who gets inducted during a ceremony starting at 7 tonight, was still trying to drink it all in Friday: the photo session with 120 Hall of Famers, the Ray Nitschke luncheon during which members spoke reverently of the Class of 2013, the banquet dinner during which his 15-year-old daughter, Mercedes, placed the most famous gold jacket in sports over his shoulders.

"It's more than anything I could have imagined," Sapp said. "When you're sitting in the room … I'm home. I'm a small-town country boy, and it feels just like home.

"I actually took a picture at the Nitschke luncheon, too. I'm a fan of this game more than I am anything other than a player. I'm looking for Bob Lilly and all the (defensive) tackles. I'm looking at all the great ones. I'm going to take my pictures and go home and make me a scrapbook and flip through it for years to come. This is my team now, and I'm going to enjoy it. I've always been that way with my teammates."

Sapp, only the fourth defensive tackle elected in his first year of eligibility, bounced around like a drop of water on a hot skillet Friday. When the last group photograph was taken, at the first hint of movement, Sapp was on his feet and hunting quarterbacks.

He ran down Roger Staubach. He embraced Joe Namath. He corralled John Elway. He took out his cell phone and filled the pages of his personal scrapbook.

"(Mercedes) asked me to meet Jerry Rice!" Sapp said. "I walked up to Jerry and said, 'I normally don't introduce men to my daughter. But you're Jerry Rice, so it's got to go down.'

"You want to see all my pictures? I'm a kid in a candy store. This is all I ever wanted was to be around with the great ones in the game, and they stamped me official. Well, not yet. They keep telling me you're not in yet. I've got to keep following the rules. I'm not in yet. I'm an inductee."

As much as Sapp felt at home, other Hall of Famers rolled out the welcome mat.

"I always said he and (defensive end) Bruce Smith were the hardest guys I ever had to play against," former running back Curtis Martin said. "He was so quick and so strong. Really, he was the Michael Jordan of defensive tackles."

"He was the consummate three technique," said Bill Parcells, the coach of four teams and a member of Sapp's Hall class.

Sapp was asked the highlight of his 13-year career, which included seven Pro Bowls, selection to the all-decade teams of the 1990s and 2000s, defensive player of the year in 1999 and the Super Bowl XXXVII championship.

"Jan. 26, 2003," Sapp said. "We brought a world championship back to One Buc Place. It was just a woodshed. Nobody gave us a snowball's chance in hell. We were the Yucks, remember?"

While Sapp considers himself a fan of the game, today he will be joined in Canton by some of his biggest fans, including former coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, former teammates Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, Bucs co-chairmen Joel and Bryan Glazer and Bucs general manager Mark Dominik.

Sapp will be the sixth in the order of seven to be inducted tonight. He said he will cry during the speech but hopes to make it through the first few minutes.

"I'll take it from a little dirt road in Plymouth, Fla., down the Ronald Reagan Expressway, back up that thing, across Alligator Alley, up I-75 to Tampa," said Sapp, also a star at the University of Miami. "Back across I-4 to the crib, and then we're going to go from there. Then a shout-out to my boys at Showtime and NFL Network … and there we go. We're going to ride this thing, baby.

"I've been trying to imagine how everything would feel, and I still haven't got there. My anticipation still ain't nowhere near it. It's not in the same hemisphere. It's crazy. It's crazy. I'm here."

     
             
Comments
Back on right path, Robinson High’s Byron Pringle hopes to impress at Senior Bowl

Back on right path, Robinson High’s Byron Pringle hopes to impress at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. — Byron Pringle understands how easily his life could have gone another way."I’ve been through a lot, but I’m very blessed," he said. "What happened in the past, it made me who I am today. It’s made me realize you have to value the thing...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Senior Bowl journal: Washington State teammates playing with heavy hearts after QB’s suicide

Senior Bowl journal: Washington State teammates playing with heavy hearts after QB’s suicide

MOBILE, Ala. — Washington State QB Luke Falk and G Cole Madison began their practices at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday with heavy hearts, still reeling from last week’s news that Cougars QB Tyler Hilinski had committed suicide.They remembered their frie...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Paying homage to Brady and Belichick

Rick and Tom podcast: Paying homage to Brady and Belichick

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones examine the wonder that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the pair head to their eighth Super Bowl together and have cemented themselves as the greatest coach-QB duo in NFL history.The guys discuss ...
Published: 01/23/18
Q&A: Ex-Bucs RB Warrick Dunn on Brooks, Winston, Ring of Honor

Q&A: Ex-Bucs RB Warrick Dunn on Brooks, Winston, Ring of Honor

Former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn will be reunited with Derrick Brooks — his teammate both at Florida State and with the Bucs — when they work together Sunday as "Legends" captains for the NFC squad in Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando."Wh...
Published: 01/23/18
Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

TAMPA – Unless you are a Chowd who drives the cah wicked fah and pahks in the yahd, you probably aren't all that jacked up about the Patriots returning to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Anybody but Bill Belichick...
Published: 01/22/18
Updated: 01/23/18
Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

The Bucs aren't playing for a Super Bowl, and the game itself won't come to Tampa for three more years. But there's no shortage of cool local connections and ties on the Patriots and Eagles' rosters. You've already heard some of these stories, and yo...
Published: 01/22/18
Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

TAMPA — Next victim, please.Shouldn't we just start penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl before every season?It would save us a lot of time.Mind you, the rest of the NFL is fighting Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and this foregone conclus...
Published: 01/22/18
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Published: 01/22/18
Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

PHILADELPHIA — Confetti filled the air, fireworks erupted overhead, and fans sang "Fly, Eagles Fly!" No one dared head for the exits. There was too much to celebrate.The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.The makeshift podium hadn’t taken space on Ph...
Published: 01/21/18
Updated: 01/22/18
Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Published: 01/21/18