Warren Sapp Tampa Bay Buccaneers & Oakland Raiders
"All I’ve ever been taught is that no matter how fast you run the 40 or how much you bench press, it’s all about did you make the play, did you win or did you lose. That’s the way you judge a player. You put him out on the field for 30 plays and see how many times he made a play or was a factor in making a play for you. That’s how I’ve always been judged, and that’s how I judge myself. You can never be satisfied in this game.”
Warren Sapp forewent his senior season at the University of Miami to enter the NFL Draft in 1995. He was taken as the 12th player overall in that year’s draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quickly became a fixture on the interior of the team’s defensive line.
Sapp developed into one of the most dominating defensive tackles in NFL history during 13 seasons that included four final years with the Oakland Raiders from 2004-07. He racked up an unusually high total of sacks for an interior defensive lineman as he registered 96.5 career sacks. Four times he posted double-digit sack totals in a season including a career-high and team record 16.5 in 2000.
He earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1999 when he helped the Buccaneers to its first division title in 18 seasons. He recorded 12.5 sacks, 54 tackles, three forced fumbles, and recovered two fumbles that year.
In 2002, Sapp was the leader of a Bucs’ defense that led the NFL in total defense and pass defense. He finished second on the team with 7.5 sacks, tied for most in the NFC by a defensive tackle, and racked up 78 tackles, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery, three passes defensed and posted a career-high two interceptions. Tampa Bay finished 12-4-0 to win the NFC South. Then, the Buccaneers raced through the playoffs with convincing wins over the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoff game and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game before capturing the only Super Bowl title in franchise history. Sapp pitched in with two tackles, one sack for nine yards, two passes defensed and forced a fumble as Tampa Bay defeated Oakland 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Sapp earned first-team All-Pro acclaim in four straight seasons from 1999-2002 and was voted to seven Pro Bowls during his career. He is one of a select group of players to be named to multiple NFL All-Decade Teams (1990s and 2000s).