Evidently, former Bucs coach Tony Dungy had a different set of standards for the eventual Hall of Famers on his iconic defense.
One for blustery, volatile defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and another for everybody else, including John Lynch and Derrick Brooks.
Appearing Thursday with Sapp on the Rich Eisen Show, Lynch (elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week) and Brooks (elected in 2014) recounted how they once went to Dungy’s office suggesting he bench Sapp for an unspecified reason after their efforts to corral him had failed.
“Every practice this guy competed his tail off,” Lynch said. “But there was one period of time where Warren was acting up a little. And usually, a combination of Brooks and I, or Brooks or myself, could get to Warren and say, ‘Hey, let’s calm down, big man. Let’s think about the team and let’s think about this.’
“And there was one time where we threw our hands up and ... we went in Coach Dungy’s office and said, ‘We can’t do anything. He’s acting up and I think you have to sit him.’
“And Coach looked at us calmly like Tony does, he took a deep breath, and he said, ‘You guys in my mind are both Hall of Fame players. But, John, I can play without you. Derrick, I can play without you. We can’t play without 99 (Sapp), so you’d best figure it out.”
Brooks concurred, adding then-Bucs general manager Rich McKay also happened to be in the office at that moment, asking Dungy about what he would do if he ever had to discipline Sapp.
“And we interrupted that conversation,” Brooks said.
“So Warren comes in the next day man, I’d done practiced all this stuff I’m getting ready to say to him like, ‘Okay, this is going to work, that’s not going to work.’ I’ve been talking to myself in the mirror. He comes in the next day ... like nothing happened.”
Sapp said he’d never heard the story prior to Thursday, but acknowledged his deep bond with Dungy.
“Listen, man, me and Dungy had a special, special relationship,” said Sapp, elected to the Hall in 2013. “The man used to keep my daughter on Friday night so I could take the wife out on a date night.”