Warren Sapp Enshrinement speech
Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 3, 2013
Good evening. I'd like to give all the love to God because without him none of this is possible, Philippians 4:13, I can do all things with Christ. I will definitely need him tonight to finish this.
I have to start at the top. My grandmother is not here today, Rosie Lykes, and I know she's looking down on me right now. My grandfather and my brother Parnell. My grandmother said something to me a long time ago that I'll never forget. She said, boy, don't ever forget where you come from. And I stand before you today, one humble, proud country boy from Plymouth, Florida. That's right. The dirt. That dirt road was something rough, but sure turned it into something special.
I go to my mother, Annie Roberts. Mom, I love you. You were my rock, my everything. Watching you wake up every morning, and you yelled boy, go to school on your way off to work, and I might not see you for two more days because you were at work so much. I was going to make sure I got myself to school and do everything right that you wanted me to get done, because I was going to make you proud. And that was my whole goal was to retire you.
Being the baby of six kids, you get treated real bad, even by your sisters (laughing). Lisa, you were my protector, my rock. Whenever I need you, baby, you were steady, ready and willing. I love you. Lisa, you were my protector, you taught me how to love and you taught me to fight like hell, and I love you, baby. Punchy, you showed me what another sport was. I still hate baseball (laughing). Arnell, you're not here with me tonight, and I know you're at home right now. But you were my first superstar. I watched you run for 348 yards and five touchdowns in a high school football game, and then I went out on the playing field and watched my friend grab a football and say, I'm Arnell Lykes, and we all stopped and said you can't be Sapp's brother.
So my first superstar was in my own living room and I got to eat with him. Arnell, I love you, boy, more than you can ever think.
In that little dirt town in Plymouth, there wasn't a lot to do. And I want to thank Quinnly Harper and Troy Rainey, because without you, Troy, I would have never played this great game of football. I was on my way home and Troy said, where you going? I said, I'm on my way home. He said, no, we're going to play football. I said I got to call my mama first.
Picked up the phone, called her. She said go ahead, boy. She didn't know what I had asked her at that time, because all my brothers were running backs and they always came home broke up, and she didn't want her baby broke up. What a situation, huh? Apopka. The indoor foliage capital of the world. APK, the Blue Darters. Yeah, baby, we here. Yes, we are. Coach Gierke, you were my coach, but more like a father. I want to say I love you, Coach. I know you're not here, and I know you're watching.
Will and Janice Carlton, I want to thank you all for Saturday mornings, because without you two, the ACT test would have been a little bit too much for a country boy to bear, because I had no idea the difference between a porch, a lanai or anything else.
Coach Dennis Erickson, and all the University of Miami, the Canes, I want to thank Coach for getting on a plane and flying up from Miami to Orlando, Florida and getting on 441 going north, and just like I told you, Coach, drive until it gets real dark like you've gotten lost, then all of a sudden you'll see the flashing lights and it's going to say “Girls, Girls.” It was just a little trucker stop, but I lived behind that trucker stop. (Laughing).
Dennis Erickson, and Greg Smith thank you for coming to get a little country boy and showing him what life was about, because I hadn't seen anything over a five story building, unless my Auntie Olga was driving. The road dog. That's right, baby. I ain't going to forget you. My road dog. 31 out of 32 stadiums we did. Yes, it was something special.
Nina Gio, my Texas crew. Nina, you taught me what it was to go on a playing field and talk trash and back it up. Never thought I'd learn it from a girl, but my cousin was just that tough. Because you know they won't let the girls play all the time. She said, come on, I'll take you one on one, boy, and I'll whoop you. So talking trash and backing it up, it's just the way of my family. It's just the way we've always done it.
Now, out of college and on to the glades. I want to thank Malcolm Glazer, the Glazer family, the Buccaneer organization. Because on that April afternoon, it wasn't fashionable to be with Warren Sapp. I was sitting there for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
But they took me and they said, we're going to change this organization and Derrick Brooks, he was with me that day. And without you, dude, ain't no way we turned it around. And I see you right beside him, Lynch. You were the back end, the front, the back and the middle. My rocks that made it possible. I want to thank you, fellas.
I played for a lot of coaches in my day. But there's three I want to recognize today. Because when I got to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 it was 11 straight double digit loss seasons. And if you don't know what that means, that means 10 or more. A lot of losing, a lot of bad times. But a young man walked in the door, Tony Dungy, and he showed us structure and a path, and a vision. How to get it done, day in and day out. I still remember it today, Coach, be a pro. My watch sits five minutes, Tony Dungy fast. I'll never be late to a meeting.
Jon Gruden. They say you're two draft picks and $8 million, so I had to walk in his office every day and see what that man was, and boy was he something special.
Held that unit accountable for every snap they took and every yard they were going to lose or whatever it was, and boy, it was so fun to watch that offense get yelled at like we used to get yelled at on defense. About time Keyshawn gets it (laughing).
And Art Shell, my Hall of Fame coach I had out in Oakland that allowed me to get down as a 34 year old man and take the Oakland Raiders to the number three defense and ten sacks as a 34 year old. Thank you, Coach.
I never played this game to get in the Hall of Fame. I played this game to retire my mother, because my mother worked so hard, and I wasn't going to allow her or myself to be in that position again. I love this game. I love the passion of it. I sit here with the greatest among the great. As Michael Irvin said the other day, this is the Bible of football because you can read it, get inspiration, gain strength, and look to tomorrow.
This game is so great, there is nothing else I know and love that's taken me from a dirt road to heights I've never even seen and now to a gold jacket. Oh, my goodness (laughing).
There's so many people I have to thank. So many people I want to continue to talk about, but I know I'm going to forget somebody, but I'm going to go to my team that's with me now. Phil (Simms)with Showtime (Inside The NFL). You, Chris, and JB (James Brown), taught a young 39 year old whippersnapper what it is to be a professional and come to work and love your job and love the men you work with. I want to thank you for the many conversations and the phone calls and the texts, yeah, the texts. They do text. The old guys do. So I just want to thank you guys for guiding me.
To my team now, NFL Network, my humble host, Rich Eisen as we get up early in the morning every Sunday morning, baby. My coach, Mooch. Oh, Steve Mariucci. Marshall Faulk, my Hall of Fame brother, my running back, my partner in crime. We started on that set together, and you've been such a help to me. You know what it is, baby, and I love you so much.
Kurt Warner, I know Brenda's looking at you like oh, shake. You too, Brenda. I love you quarterback. I love my quarterbacks. My quarterback comes to the set, and we get it done, and we love the way we do it. There is no better man I love on a Sunday morning than you Kurt Warner, because you get me right. You make me be a little better, and thanks for the socks too.
Now to my U brother. Michael Irvin, Money Mike forms the green, and his Orange County boy does the orange, and we form the U in the corner. That's what we do. It's five other University of Miami brethren in this Hall of Fame, I want to say thank you, and I join you and I love what we have. The bond, it's a chain thing, you wouldn't understand.
I can sit up here all night long, and I won't do that to Chris, because it's time for us to close the show and get a party going, because we here, baby. We here, baby.
To my rock, Jamiko Sapp, my ex-wife. Baby, you held me up when nobody else would. I want to thank you. You were my backbone. All them nights you took care of me. And I want to say I love you and I thank you. And for everybody else out there that I did forget, I love you, God bless you and good night.
Presenter Video: Mercedes Sapp presents her father, Warren