Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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“Sapp Attack” really makes its point
Posted Aug 21, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Jul 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM
So, Warren Sapp has written his story.
The Bucs’ former defensive line standout writes “really?” and “excuse me?” as in “are you serious?” or “are you kidding me?” many times in his book, “Sapp Attack: My Story” (Thomas Dunne Books, hardback, $25.99, 330 pages).
Co-written with veteran author David Fisher, Sapp remains true to himself in “Sapp Attack”: in-your-face, pithy, profane and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Fisher might have been tempted to try and tone down Sapp’s rhetoric, but to his credit (and perhaps Sapp’s), the reader gets unfiltered dialogue.
Former teammate, quarterback Trent Dilfer, “was an interception waiting to happen.”
About Tampa Bay’s losing culture before Tony Dungy became coach: “The Bucs losing was like paint drying; you wait long enough and it was going to happen.”
More about losing: “I’d stop my car at a traffic light, and the squeegee man would offer me a quarter.”
About his rivalry with Packers quarterback Brett Favre: “We were like two kids trash talking in a playground game. … I loved him for that, absolutely loved him. He really was just like me, always looking to have a little fun.”
Sapp is a good story teller, and his experiences growing up as a youth in Central Florida and his early years playing at the University of Miami are worth retelling. But Sapp does not hit his stride until he writes about his years with the Bucs.
Sapp refers to Sam Wyche, his first coach in Tampa Bay, as a “frame guy,” who “admired the frame instead of looking at the picture.”
It’s particularly interesting to read about the evolution of the Bucs’ defense under Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. And Sapp writes about Dungy’s influence and how he could motivate players without ever raising his voice — a drastic change, Sapp writes, from Wyche’s policy of snide comments.
Dungy was known as the “Voice of God” by the players. One day, while watching film with Kiffin, Sapp admitted that on a particular play that he’d given all he could. And then Dungy spoke from the back of the room.
“ ‘Ninety-nine … that’s not good enough.’ Then he paused and finished his thought. ‘For you.’ ”
“That was an arrow hitting the center of the target,” Sapp writes. “… Whew, that’s making the point.”
Sapp makes his own points, quite pointedly at times. He writes about his closeness with fellow defensive tackle Brad Culpepper and his friction with teammate Chidi Ahanotu. He had issues with other teammates, too, most notably with Keyshawn Johnson. While conceding that Johnson had ability, Sapp writes that his problems with the wide receiver were “based on his play and his refusal to accept responsibility for his own failures.”
Of his coaches in Tampa Bay, Sapp is succinct.
“I always said that Tony Dungy put the damn cake in the oven, and then Jon Gruden came in and put the icing on it,” he writes. “Of course, Sam Wyche couldn’t even get the mix out of the box.”
Sapp was a fearless warrior in the trenches, so it makes sense that he is fearless in his writing. His honesty can be unsettling, but he sure can’t be accused of holding back.
Sapp’s legacy in the NFL is clear. He will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, perhaps as soon as next year when he becomes eligible for the first time. To his credit, Sapp does not mention his candidacy — or his chances — in “Sapp Attack.” But Sapp has always been a polarizing figure. There is no gray area where he is concerned.
His fans will love “Sapp Attack.” His detractors won’t. But there is no questioning Sapp’s passion and love for football — and his ability to entertain while writing about it. That point is driven home as subtly as a jarring tackle.