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Fun-loving Sapp smiles all the way to Hall of Fame
The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, plan to retire his No. 99 jersey during the club’s annual Ring of Honor ceremony in November.
“Warren never gave less than his all. His days on the field were headlined by incredible passion, overwhelming talent and, of course, his louder than life personality,” team co-chairman Bryan Glazer said.
Sapp joins Lee Roy Selmon, the first-ever draft pick of the expansion Bucs in 1976, as the only Hall of Famers who spent the majority of their careers in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers ranked in the top 10 in fewest yards and points allowed for nine straight seasons from 1997-2005.
“We took a place where they said careers came to die to a place that’s become a destination,” Sapp said. “We got a No. 1 receiver (Vincent Jackson) who just walked in the door here last year. That was never the case. Nobody was coming here as a free agent. We got Simeon Rice to walk in this place and help us win a championship. There were some choice things that went on.”
Year in and year out, no team was as consistent defensively as Tampa Bay during Sapp’s heyday. The impact is still felt around the league.
“Whenever you think of the Purple People Eaters, you’ve got to go to Minnesota. When you think of Doomsday, you’ve got to go to Dallas. The Steel Curtain, you’ve got to go to Pittsburgh,” Sapp said. “They play Tampa 2 everywhere.”
He was elected in his first year of eligibility in February and will be enshrined in Canton on Saturday as a part of a class that also includes Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells and Dave Robinson.
“I played the game for the love and respect of the people I played with and against. And if you are picking a team, and you’ve got a defensive tackle position, I’m taking 99. And twice on Sunday,” Sapp said. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. If you had a defense, and you set a defensive tackle position, if I’m not that one, I’m definitely the other one. If you’re not taking me, I want to see the two you are taking.”
“He invented talking trash and backing it up. He invented coming from a little small town, making it to the Johnny Carson show, movies, all the stuff he did,” Sapp said.
“The man was everything you wanted that signified a Hall of Famer. Everything that it was. And they said he was gatekeeper,” Sapp added. “And for me, in the 50th year of the Hall of Fame to be going in and the gatekeeper not be standing there, who else? That’s the only question I have. Who else is going to sit there and talk trash to me?”
By Tammy Bruce
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