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Love of game unites Sapp, Favre

By ERNEST HOOPER, RICK STROUD and Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000


The mutual admiration between Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre and Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp has been well-chronicled.

While some may think the NFC Central rivals have disdain for each other, Favre said it's quite the opposite.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a man and as a football player," Favre said. "You guys have gotten to know Warren, you know what he's about. He tells you like it is, what you see is what you get and I like him. I wish he was on my football team because he's a driving force on the field, and off the field, you like being around him."

Favre got a chance to be around Sapp this off-season at an NFL golf tournament in La Costa, Calif. Favre said he was impressed with Sapp's game and figures the 290-pounder has a 13 or 14 handicap.

"No. I am handicapped," the 6-2, 303-pound Sapp said. "My golf game s----. I played pretty well that day, though. I hit a couple shots. Most people think this big guy can't hit the ball. But I got a little touch in me now and then, especially in the sand. When in doubt, hit it in the dirt."

The Sapp-Favre rivalry is one of the most celebrated in football, and Favre said he believes it's because both players have a youthful passion for the game that transcends big-money contracts.

"I would like to think that everyone who watches football and watches the Packers play would say ... "Brett gives you everything he's got, you never know what's coming up. He plays with a lot of heart, it doesn't matter how much money he makes. All that matters is that he's treating that game like he was a kid back in fifth grade,' " Favre said. "When I watch Warren play, that's what I see.

"The rivalry comes from that. People like to see two guys get after it. Maybe it reminds them of when they were growing up, I don't know."

Sapp said if he started a team, Favre would be his first pick.

"I think he feels the same way, and if he doesn't, I'm going to make him feel that way," Sapp said.

JOB SECURITY: Last season, coach Ray Rhodes was fired by general manager Ron Wolfe after going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs. Now Green Bay is 4-5 and at best a dark horse for the playoffs. Does new coach Mike Sherman worry he will be out if the Packers come up short again?

"I really don't worry about those issues. I just worry about the next football game," Sherman said. "That's out of my hands. I've never, ever, even one time this season, considered my job security. Maybe I should, but I just don't.

"It's something that I don't worry about. You work as hard as you can, you do the best job you can and if it's good enough and they like it, you stay. If it's not, you go."

A LITTLE GREEN: With Dorsey Levens possibly out for the season, running back Ahman Green is being relied on to be a force as a ball carrier and a receiver. But there still is room for improvement, with Green having dropped three passes in the past two games.

"He's only a 22-year-old kid and at this stage, obviously, he doesn't have the presence of a Dorsey Levens," Sherman said. "But he has some other intangibles. His ability to break a long run at any second because of his outstanding speed. We have a lot of confidence in Ahman and he does in himself. We just go as we go."

DROPSIES: The Packers dropped eight passes against Minnesota Monday, the most they've had in a game since dropping eight at Philadelphia in 1994. By comparison, the Packers dropped 10 passes in their final five regular-season games and three post-season games in 1996, the year they won the Super Bowl.

ON KING: The Packers had good things to say about Bucs quarterback Shaun King.

"I say this without a blink," strong safety LeRoy Butler said. "He is one of the top five smartest quarterbacks in the league. He doesn't make any mistakes."

Said Favre: "He probably wouldn't tell you guys that, but he's sitting there and guys are saying you got to do this, you got to do that. He got there for a reason. He didn't get there because people told him, "You do this, you do that, you do this.' You got to react to plays. Let the guy play a little bit. It seems like the last few weeks that's what's happening."

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