By Steve Corkran
Friday, April 6th, 2012 at 12:49 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Long before he joined the Raiders for the final four seasons of his distinguished NFL career, defensive tackle Warren Sapp anchored one of the most-ferocious defenses in NFL history.
During one stretch, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recorded at least one sack in 68 straight games. Sapp said they knocked out the quarterback from the game in six straight contests during that run.
Through it all, everything was done within the rules, by playing hard and without any talk of a bounty placed on players.
“Not for one second would I sit in a room and listen to someone say, ‘We’re going to take out someone’s ACL,’ without standing up and saying, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ ” Sapp said in an hour-long phone call, most of it discussing the recent revelations about the New Orleans Saints instituting a bounty program. “The way you play defense isn’t about malice. It’s about putting you in fourth-and-more than you can handle.”
Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is accused of implementing a program in which players were paid $1,000 for knocking a player out of a game and $1,500 for a hit that resulted in a player being carted off the field.
That program took flight, Sapp said, because the Saints lacked a “great” player who had the courage and status to stand up and say, “This is wrong.”
“Who on that team is going to stop it?” Sapp said of the Saints. “It takes a great player to stand up there and say, ‘Fellas, we can’t do this.’ The only one with the power to say something was Darren Sharper. We heard what he had to say. How ridiculous does he look now?”
Sapp said players such as himself, defensive end Simeon Rice, linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber would have nipped in the bud any attempt by a Buccaneers coach to implement a bounty program.
Even so, he added, most thoughts of a bounty program disappeared with the advent of free agency.
The thinking is, players today aren’t apt to go after an opponent when there’s the likelihood of that player being your teammate down the road.
“This is an anomaly, it’s not the exception,” Sapp said of the Saints transgressions. “It’s one in 3 billion. This is the most heinous, egregious thing in the history of this game.”
Interestingly, Sapp said it’s somewhat head scratching for Williams to be “demonized,” when it’s the media who labeled Williams “Dr. Death” and the NFL “celebrates” things such as the ‘Body Bay Game’ and ‘The Bounty Bowls’ from the 1980s.