By Ernie Palladino
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Tiki Barber was right. Warren Sapp’s an idiot.
That’s OK, though. There are lots of idiots out there. The legion of the misinformed and ignorant grows every day in every walk of life. If you don’t believe it, just listen to Paula Deen for three or four seconds.
What separates Sapp from the other idiots is something that goes deeper than simple stupidity. There’s a classlessness about him that shows up whenever he opens his mouth or bangs his thumbs on a smartphone.
For some strange reason, he has a thing about Michael Strahan. It’s strange, because he never played with him, never had a tiff with him as far as anyone knows, and never had to fend off a barb — verbal or tweeted — from the Giants’ great defensive end. And yet, Sapp has attacked him more than once.
A shot at, say, Brett Favre would be more understandable than this feud he’s started with Strahan. Sapp and Favre had some legendary confrontations on the field as words sometimes degenerated into pushing and shoving after one of the Green Bay quarterback’s patented scrambles made the defensive tackle look bad. But Strahan? The only connection there is that Favre flopped for him in the final minutes of 2001 to give Strahan the all-time single-season sack record. Sapp could have attacked Strahan for that one single sack, but what of the other franchise-record 140 in his career?
That didn’t stop the newly-minted Hall of Famer from starting the feud in February after the voting committee picked Sapp, and not Strahan, for induction. Sapp had said he expected Strahan to be selected because he was a “media darling,” a cheap, unnecessary and classless shot at a player who had all the credentials for first-ballot selection but fell short.
Strahan fired back then, tweeting, “You never cease to amaze me. Enjoy your moment. You don’t need to take a shot at me to justify yourself to other people.”
Last Wednesday, in an interview with the Tampa Tribune, Sapp lobbied for his teammate Simeon Rice’s inclusion. To be sure, Rice was a fantastic pass-rusher who finished with 122 career sacks. He didn’t play the run particularly well, but unlike Strahan, who played the strong side, that wasn’t really his role, either.
As for Sapp’s claim last Wednesday that Strahan was a bust before Dan Reeves moved him to the left side in 1996, well, he’s wrong. Strahan led the Giants in sacks the year before, his third year in the league and second year starting, albeit with just 7 1/2. Strahan never wanted to move off the right side, but the Giants had drafted Cedric Jones No. 1 in ‘96, and he HAD to play over the left tackle because, as the Giants learned too late, he was blind in his right eye.
So Strahan moved. He struggled in the pass-rush department the following season, but once he acclimated himself to the constant strong side double-teams, he led the league in ‘97 and ‘98 with 14 and 15 sacks.
So Sapp was factually wrong about the potential bust part of it.
There was nothing at all wrong with Sapp lobbying for a teammate. Rice stands 13th on the all-time sack list, which should be enough to at least put him in the Hall of Fame conversation. But why bring Strahan into it?
It’s just classless. But Sapp has never dealt much in that commodity. Anyone who watched him stand across from the ever-classy Phil Simms on Inside the NFL knows that. He’s crass. It’s his thing.
It’s what makes him an idiot. But it’s his lack of class that makes him a bad guy.
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