Sapp not worried about his future
By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Focus is on this season, not potential contract negotiations next season.
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 20, 2003
|[Times photo:Bill Serne]
Warren Sapp, trying to keep cool on the first morning of practice, could be named the Bucs franchise player next season, a title that comes with a guaranteed $7.9-million salary.
| Bucs Bachelors
LAKE BUENA VISTA - Warren Sapp wore a smile to the first practice of what could be his last season with the Buccaneers.
In the final year of a six-year contract, Sapp will make $6.6-million this season. Though the Bucs have not offered a new deal to the cornerstone of Tampa Bay's top-ranked defense, leaving his future up in the air, Sapp said reporting to work Saturday felt no different than previous seasons.
He was energized, playful with fans and teammates and eager to begin the quest for a second championship.
"Wild dogs can't drag me away," he said.
Sapp, who has been a Buc for all of his eight NFL seasons, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Tampa Bay could retain his rights for 2004 by declaring him a franchise player, a label that comes with a guaranteed $7.9-million salary.
Or Sapp could play somewhere else.
"There are 32 teams in this league," he said. "You don't think I'll find a job?"
Sapp quickly pointed out that not only have the Bucs not approached him with a new contract, Sapp has not pressured general manager Rich McKay for a deal.
"I'm not in there banging on Rich's door," Sapp said. "I'm not hiding from this. There are 32 teams in this league. If (the Bucs) say no then, okay, I have to go somewhere else. I'll be fine. What do you think, my world ends and dies with the Bucs? I was a fully grown man before I ever got picked by these people."
Sapp wore a jersey from Kobe Bryant's high school basketball team, Lower Marion in Ardmore, Pa., to a news conference Saturday in show of support for the Lakers star, who has been charged with felony sexual assault in Colorado. Sapp said he has not considered pulling on another NFL team's jersey on Sundays. Nor has he thought about finishing his career in pewter and red.
Ultimately, he said, he has no control over the Bucs' choices.
"It's not my team," Sapp said. "They say it's mine. They say I'm the mouthpiece of it, the face of it. It's Malcolm Glazer's team and probably his wife's a little more than his because we all know who runs the house at everybody's house, right?"
Sapp spoke fondly of his integral role in building one of the league's best defenses "from the ground up" and his desire for the Bucs to win consecutive championships to "solidify ourselves as the best of all-time." He refused to frown about his situation.
"Why would I feel slighted?" he asked. "You want me to wild out? I can't do it for you. I got $6.6-million due to me this year. If they want to franchise me, I have $7.9-million due to me next year. That's pretty good money. You can't get that at McDonald's."
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