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A sensitive QB killa? That's No. 99

[Times photos: Toni L. Sandys]
It sure isn't the thought of wearing a Speedo as a high school swimmer that brings a smile to Sapp's face.

By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 20, 2002


He is Bucs All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp, No. 99. His web site is qbkilla.com. Big Sapp Daddy. Nothing more needs to be said.

RM: What are you scared of?

WS: Heights. I was up on the tall building in Miami at (former Hurricanes teammate) Rohan (Marley's) place and he lives on the 37-something floor. And he was like, "Come out here, let me show you the view." I was like, "Dog, I'm not going out on the balcony." No way.

RM: When did this start?

WS: When I was a little kid I used to have this dream every night about this guy named Big Bub. He used to own this orange grove, and we used to throw his oranges all the time. And I would have this dream that he was chasing me and he always chased me up a building and some kind of way I would fall off. I used to wake up every time after falling off.

RM: Last time you cried?

WS: Watching the movie, A Beautiful Mind. At the end of the movie, when he gave all the credit to his wife, you've got to feel that. Through love is the only way you find logic. That was great. When he told her, "You're all my reasons." That was great. ... You know what, I've since said I want to take a trip up there to Princeton. They say he still keeps regular hours. I want to go meet him.

RM: So, you're in touch with your feminine side?

WS: I don't know what that means. Does that mean, I go home and wear women's underwear? No. But I understand being sensitive. I just don't have patience for people who don't think before they speak (and act).

photo
"It's okay for a man to cry," Sapp says, adding that you can be sensitive ... and you don't have to wear women's underwear.
RM: So that movie had some impact on you.

WS: Oh my God. You always hear about movies like that, and American Beauty, and you wonder how they win Academy Awards. Then I watched A Beautiful Mind. ... I didn't know it was that good. I had to buy it on DVD.

RM: It's okay for a man to cry then?

WS: Yes. Look, some things touch us differently than they do women. Women won't cry for certain stuff. Like I will cry on the football field. Winning and losing will make me cry sometimes, and women can't understand that. Yet we can't understand how they would look at the soap operas and cry. It's okay for a man to cry because you're in touch with your feelings.

RM: Does your mom ever say to you, "Warren, shut up."

WS: No. Not anymore. I pay her bills. You can't bite the hand that feeds you.

RM: What's the nicest thing you've ever done for somebody?

WS: That would depend. For some people, they would say just saying hello to them would make their day. Some would say seeing me made their day. But I think for me, it's the way I have treated this rookie class, the last two rookie classes, in fact. I've been a lot more of a teammate teacher than a veteran (expletive).

RM: What happened?

WS: I once heard (defensive line coach) Rod (Marinelli) say to a player, "You might not be here for our system, but I can help you go somewhere else." Well, everyone's not built to play our defense, so I thought maybe I can help someone learn the game, learn a little technique here or there. I want to make a different impression on the younger players that run into me. They have lived the legend of Sapp. Some of them told me they've watched me since high school, and that kind of scared me. Really gave me a perspective of what young players were.

RM: Nicest thing someone has done for you?

WS: Every person I ran into that gave me a tidbit helped me. My high school coach gave me a second opportunity to play ball. (Former Miami coach) Dennis Erickson helped my career far beyond anything that I can touch. (Former Bucs coach Tony) Dungy developed me into the player I am today. And now (Jon) Gruden is letting me thrive in it. But the one person has to be my mother. She gave me life.

RM: First Sunday after you retire, what are you going to do?

WS: I hope I live to see that. We're all on borrowed time. But, probably, I would watch football.

RM: Some players say they wouldn't want to watch the game anymore.

WS: Yeah right. That's a lie. Every day, you wake up groomed to come here and do something. Then you wake up, and there's nothing else you can do. How empty a feeling is that going to be? . . . I'll watch football. At least, it's going to keep me through to Monday. Maybe Monday I can do something.

RM: One sentence description of Donovan McNabb.

WS: The ultimate threat.

RM: Lowest feeling, the loss to the Rams, the first loss to the Eagles or the second loss to the Eagles?

WS: The second one, because of my injury and everything that went into that game, the night before, everything that was taking place with this team, the whole year long. I watched the bolts come off this ship and the most disheartening thing was I wasn't healthy enough to do anything about it, healthy enough to tighten them. It came apart on me. I said it beforehand, that if we didn't do what we needed to do, it was going to come apart and I watched it come apart. I was helpless. There was nothing I could do. I couldn't really get on the field to prove how angry I was and how much I wanted to keep this thing together. But it usually works out for you in the end.

RM: Why do you like Eminem?

WS: You know what, Eminem is the hottest white boy going right now. And it ain't because his skin is white. He's simply the hottest thing right now. You have to listen to him and how he talks about his music. He said his first album was doo doo, his second album was catching up with the beat and his third album was learning how to ride the rhythm of the beat. Hey man, for 40-million sold and you're still trying to perfect the beat. And willing to admit that you're still off? That really touched me. I'm like, that's just me. I've got 12 (sacks) but I missed six or seven here, three or four there. He's searching for perfection and I like that.

RM: What's the difference between No. 99 and Warren Sapp?

WS: This is my job, how I feed my family, take care of my life. When I leave this, I'm on my time. I'm just a person like you. I don't want to be bothered. I want to go to the grocery store. I want to go to the movies. I want to take my children to the park. Why can't everybody else separate the two?

RM: But you understand that people have expectations because of who you are?

WS: I wear a jersey and it identifies me as No. 99. But when I'm in street clothes, you have to be viewed as a person first. That's Warren, not No. 99. My little girl doesn't know anything about me not getting sacks. . . . Football is football. Home is home. And if you can't distinguish the two, they become meshed. What am I supposed to do when I have a bad day here, take that home with me? I can't. Then my wife will have to deal with the double team, and she has nothing to do with that.

RM: There's a myth that African-Americans can't swim. Why?

WS: Because a bunch of people like Keyshawn (Johnson) and boys from L.A. can't swim. Big city boys can't. Like Key says, "In L.A. all the pools are empty. There's no water in the pools." Now in Florida, we have springs, rivers, lakes, you lived in the water because it was so hot.

RM: Heard you're quite a swimmer.

WS: I was on the swim team in junior high, and actually in my freshman year in high school, and went to the districts.

RM: Fess up, did you wear those Speedos?

WS: One year they made me wear them. It cut about 12 seconds off my time.

RM: But you, in a Speedo?

WS: It was embarrassing. I don't have the body to be standing there in a Speedo. But I didn't stand there long. I was quickly into the water.

RM: But did you have to shave your legs?

WS: Hell no! I'm not a hairy person anyway.

RM: Sex education in schools, good or bad idea?

WS: Bad idea. How do you know I want my little girl and boy knowing that at that age. Who decides the age? Who decides what's being taught? Who's to stop the 10-year-old with a 20-something-year-old brother coming in and teaching them something else? Let me tell my children about sex, please. There is no place for that in the public school system. Look, they hate to teach black history, what are they doing teaching sex? Come on!

RM: Deserted island, one teammate?

WS: Derrick Brooks.

RM: One tool?

WS: A shovel.

RM: One CD, presuming you have batteries for the player?

WS: It would be a compilation of everything.

RM: One book?

WS: The Odyssey.

RM: One beer?

WS: Grolsch.

RM: God says, "Warren, I'm ordering you to change your race." What would you change it to?

WS: White. This is a white man's world. If I was white and had this kind of ability, you know what they would do for me? They would have a tickertape parade every day of the week. It is what it is. It's naturally that way.

RM: If you could witness a historical event, what would it be?

WS: The assassination of JFK. I want to know if there was a gunman on the grassy knoll. I want to hear where the shots came from. Too many people are telling you that there were shots from the grassy knoll.

RM: If you could eradicate poverty and illiteracy from the black community, but to do so, you would have to give up your left leg, would you?

WS: Easily.

RM: But you could never play football again.

WS: But I have a whole race of people now off welfare, off the dependencies and crutches of society and into the work force. And everybody can read and write? I'll give up my left leg for that. Somebody will come by and hook me up.

RM: Who wears the pants in your house?

WS: That hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.


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