CANTON, Ohio — During Warren Sapp's initial trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he looked forward to relishing the decades of history found in its corridors, a treat for a man who often professes respect for his predecessors.
He could have chosen any number of goose-bump-inducing exhibits to visit first. But the former Bucs defensive tackle, who will be enshrined tonight, made it a point to first look for a familiar face.
"The greatest Buc is in there. Our first pick is Lee Roy (Selmon), and he sits in there," Sapp said. "I met his wife and kids (Thursday) night. The reverence that I have for him, for what he did for my organization … because before him and Doug (Williams) and the boys, there was nothing in Tampa. It was 0-26."
After today, Selmon will have company in Canton. Since 1995 he has been Tampa Bay's lone representative in the Hall.
"My brother was a Bucs fan," Sapp said. "So to go there and dream of a championship with (Derrick) Brooks and (John) Lynch and the boys and bring it home, it all starts with Lee Roy for me. That was the first bust I stopped at and took my selfie (photo of himself). I'll cherish that; the big Afro."
A handful of other Bucs achievements are commemorated. Sapp has an exhibit alongside his fellow Hall class members. It features two game-worn jerseys: one red, one white with Creamsicle orange that Sapp detests because it represents an era of losing football.
Also part of Sapp's exhibit: a life-size photo of him doing what he did with relentlessness: chasing a quarterback, unbuckled belt and all.
"He was a monster," said Bucs fan Brian Leichtenberg of Bloomington, Ill. "You couldn't stop him no matter what. … No one could match his strength, speed, ability, heart, determination. No one."
Steve Bamber of Jupiter posed for photos in front of the Sapp exhibit. The longtime University of Miami fan reflected on Sapp's career, which he saw during its collegiate phase. He was wearing a Raiders Sapp jersey.
"We were so happy Warren got picked on the 50th anniversary (of the Hall this year)," he said.
The Bucs' presence in the Hall includes more than just the Hall of Famers. Prominently displayed in the Moments, Memories & Momentos Gallery are the jersey and gloves worn by former defensive back Ronde Barber on Nov. 21, 2011, when he notched his 40th interception to become the first player in NFL history with that many along with 25 sacks.
Nearby, the shoes and gloves worn by Cadillac Williams on Sept. 25, 2005, are encased in glass, marking the day the running back rushed for 158 yards against Green Bay to become the first player with 100-plus yards rushing in each of his first three career games.
There will be more Bucs representation in years to come. A place is reserved for Sapp's bust, which will be unveiled today. And Laura Eckenrode of Bradenton, a longtime Bucs season-ticket holder, plans to return to the Hall around this time next year.
"Derrick Brooks," she said of the linebacker, "will be here next year."