My dad has followed football for most of his life, first being the fan of the Miami Dolphins and then of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I started following football in the mid-1990’s and my dad’s team, the Buccaneers, became my team.
Prior to divisional realignment in 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent 25 seasons in the black and blue NFC Central division, meaning they played each team of the current NFC North twice a year. Once I started following pro football and the Buccaneers, my favorite match-up was the Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers. What initially made the match-up intriguing was the intensity the two teams had when playing each other and the fact that Tampa Bay could rarely find a way to beat their division rival. Another thing that made this match-up fun in the late-1990’s was the “relationship” between Buccaneers defensive end Warren Sapp and quarterback Brett Favre.
In addition to his continued banter with Favre, there are several other incidents that Sapp is remembered for that have nothing to do with play on the field. One incident included a cheap shot on Green Bay Packers Chad Clifton during a game in 2002, which eventually led to Sapp getting into an argument with then Packers head coach Mike Sherman. Other incidents included Sapp skipping around on the field and through the opposing team’s pre-game workouts, running into an official costing him $50,000, being ejected from a game in 2007 for unsportsmanlike conduct and just a general running of his mouth.
Whether one loved or hated Sapp’s on the field antics, there is little doubt that Sapp is one of the best defensive tackles to play in the NFL. In his nine seasons with Tampa Bay Sapp recorded 398 combined tackles, 77 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, and 23 passes defended.
Additionally while in Tampa Bay Sapp was the 1999 AP Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the NFL’s 1990 All-Decade team, went to seven Pro Bowls, and was a First-Team All-Pro four times. Lastly, Sapp helped lead the Buccaneers to five playoff appearances and won a Super Bowl ring when Tampa Bay beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Sapp would go on to play four seasons with the Oakland Raiders and finished his career with 569 combined tackles, 96.5 sacks (34th best all-time), 19 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 29 passes defended and was named to the NFL’s 2000 All-Decade team.
Interesting facts displayed on profootballhof.com, in his career Sapp sacked 48 different quarterbacks, a quarterback from every team expect Tampa Bay, San Diego and Miami and sacked Favre 11 times.
In honor of his accomplishments on the field, this October Sapp’s number 99 will be only the second jersey number retired by the Buccaneers, and he will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor where he will join former players and coaches Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles, and Paul Gruber. On choosing a Buccaneers 2013 Ring of Honor inductee, Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer is quoted as saying, “There really was no other choice.”
Sapp had an incredible career in the NFL and on August 3 in Canton, will join six other legends and officially become inducted into the Hall of Fame.
For further information on Sapp and his Hall of Fame career make sure to check out buccaneers.com and profootballhof.com.