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Taylor edges past Sapp

Dolphins end stops Bucs tackle's two-year reign in NFL's Ultimate Defender Champion.

[Times photo: John Pendygraft]
Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp won two events, Power Drive and Two-Minute Drill, and finished second in Strongest Man. He finished last in Fumble Recovery.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2001


TAMPA -- Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp chugged around the final turn, lumbered over three piles of cushions, crossed the finish line and looked hopefully at the scoreboard.

He had lost, prompting 1,500 fans in the bleachers to scream, "We want a recount! We want a recount!"

The winner was Miami defensive end Jason Taylor with 54 points, edging Sapp's 52 in Saturday's Ultimate Defender Challenge. The event, involving six of the NFL's best defensive players, was held at the NFL Experience, which includes 50 interactive exhibits and attractions on 20 acres just north of Raymond James Stadium.

Sapp's loss in the obstacle course on a cold, overcast day followed competitions called Power Drive (shoving blocking sleds), Two-Minute Drill (question and answer session), Strongest Man (incline bench press) and Fumble Recovery (diving in piles of cushions to find a football).

Sapp won Power Drive and Two-Minute Drill and was second in Strongest Man with a final lift of 365 pounds. New Orleans' La'Roi Glover won with a lift of 380, then pushed up 405 in an exhibition lift.

Taylor captured the overall title with a win in Fumble Recovery and second-place showings in Power Drive and obstacle course.

Sapp, the competition's two-time defending champion, hurt his chances with a last-place finish in Fumble Recovery when he, well, fumbled near the finish line.

"Obviously I had some real tough competition with Warren Sapp here, so that makes it satisfying," said Taylor, who won $15,000. "It's a little extra special to come up to Tampa and beat him in front of the home crowd."

Taylor placed second to Sapp last season and knew he had a strong chance this year because he trailed by two points heading into the final event.

"It feels good to win, but of course I'd rather be here preparing for the Super Bowl," Taylor said. "It was still a lot of fun."

Other competitors in order of finish: Chicago's Brian Urlacher (46 points); Buffalo's Marcellus Wiley (38); Glover (34); Tennessee's Jevon Kearse (28).

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