Buccaneers legendary defensive tackle Warren Sapp was announced as the 2013 Ring of Honor inductee Thursday at One Buc Place. Sapp was humbled by the honor that will take place on November 11 during halftime of Tampa Bay's Monday Night Football game against the Dolphins. Below is a complete transcript of the press conference that took place on Thursday at One Buccaneer Place.
Bucs Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer’s opening remarks:
“(Warren Sapp is) the fifth person to be inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor. This year’s selection will be honored at a halftime ceremony during our November 11 game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Four pillars of the Buccaneers have been named in Ring of Honor – Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles, and Paul Gruber. And the newest member to join them – Warren Sapp.
“When you think about it, there really was no other choice. We knew he was going to be up there at some point. But on February 2 this year, he earned his spot. On that great day Warren Sapp became the second Buccaneer to be voted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“During his career Warren never once gave less than his all. His days on the field were headlined by incredible passion, overwhelming talent, and of course, his larger-than-life personality. His accolades and statistics speak for themselves. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro, NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team in two different decades. In his career, he had 96.5 sacks – the second most ever by an interior lineman, 20 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries and as he is very quick to tell you, he caught two touchdown passes.
“My family feels a very special connection to Warren. Because as you know 1995 was the year we purchased the team. And in our first draft and in our first war room, Warren Sapp was the first player drafted under our watch. The second one that day (linebacker Derrick Brooks) was pretty good also, but we will save that speech for another day. We had the pleasure of watching him come through the door as a 22-year old from Plymouth, Fla. and then growing into one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Perhaps even more important than what you read in the papers or saw on the playing field, was Warren’s intense devotion and leadership. He did not accept losing and did not let anyone around him do less than their best. It is no coincidence that Warren joined a team that had suffered through 12 consecutive losing seasons, and then by his third year, was appearing in the postseason. And in the next seven seasons we never had a losing record and would make the playoffs six times, culminating in that magical night in San Diego when we hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy as world champions. Warren is truly one of our most iconic players and we are thrilled to have him join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Ladies and gentlemen – Mr. Warren Sapp.”
Warren Sapp’s statement:
“You know, Marshall (Faulk) told me when he went into the Hall of Fame, there would be days when people say stuff about you that they only say about dead people. I guess this is one of those times. As a little boy from Plymouth, Florida standing before you right now, very humbled and very honored. Looking at the man that set me on this path right now, Mr. (Tony) Dungy. And I’m looking at my mother and my aunt, my uncle, and all my people in this room and … damn it feels good. I’m itching right now! I mean it’s just unbelievable.
“To join Jimmie (Giles), Paul Gruber, Coach (John McKay), and the other Hall of Famer (Lee Roy Selmon) – God bless his soul – I couldn’t dream of it. When Tony sat with me and Brooks in a room and told us, ‘You chase your Jack Hamm and you chase Joe Greene,’ I said ‘What does that mean?’ and he said ‘Well, Joe Greene has 10 straight Pro Bowls, [was] two-time defensive player of the year, and [won] four world championships.’ I said, ‘Whoa, that’s a lot of work!’ and he said ‘Well, you gotta go to work on it.’ So, I went to work on it, and Brooks went to work on his.
“The thing about it is we were two Florida boys, and if you know anything about Florida boys, we wear a chip on our shoulder. We walked into this place and the thing that you didn’t say, boss, is it was 11 straight double-digit loss seasons when I walked in this place. Then we went 7-9 with Sam [Wyche], 5-dash-2 and then 2-dash-7. The Tony came in and he gave us the structure. I remember the third day having (former defensive line coach) Rod Marinelli going through those bag drills and Eric Curry looked back at him and said, ‘We’re going to do this every day?’ he said ‘Yup,’ and I said ‘Oh boy, this is going be real good ‘cause we’re going to weed out a lot of people who don’t want to play football around here ‘cause it’s some hot days in Tampa!’
“I look around this room and I see Ian Beckles and Tony Mayberry. My first roommate was Hardy Nickerson. If you know anything about "Hardware" you knew exactly what it was to be around him. And that’s why when I became the leader of this team or assumed that role and that mantle, I wouldn’t allow it to drop off because Hardy wouldn’t let me drop off when I was his roommate. It was that core group, that old honoree group of guys that understood that you came to work, to work. There was a time and place for everything.
“Then 1996 came around and I remember that bus trip to Jacksonville. If you were on that bus that day with us, it was a hard run. We went all the way to Jacksonville, had two practices, and turned around and came back. I still remember that like yesterday T.D. That was going to be a hard group of men that was going to go about this championship that we were looking for. I remember it like yesterday, when me and Brooks landed we were 1-7 in the first eight games. We were the happiest 1-7 team I’ve ever been a part of. One win in eight games!
“We go out to San Diego and the second half starts. We turn on the television and ESPN is on and (Chris) Berman calls us the ‘Yuccs’. I looked at Brooks and I said, ‘Brooks, that will be the last time they disrespect the Bucs. We’re going to go about this in a real nasty manner ‘cause we got the man who’s going to lead us and we’re going to do exactly what he’s talking about ... so let’s go do it.’ Oh my goodness! So we took off from that point and next year we got Warrick Dunn and Mike (Alstott) in the backfield. And we fake it to Warrick, throw it to Mike. Or fake it to Mike, throw it to Mike, the 'Tampa pass' I think we’d call it at some point.
“I stand before you all today and I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody that had anything to do with it. Anyone who put up with my wildness and over-large personality and that big old mouth of mine – the mouth that roars. But the city of Tampa loved it. What made this place so special was the people in the stands. I remember the whole stadium. Third-and-10 they’d get quiet when the quarterback was [doing the audible] and I couldn’t believe it. No! Turn it into a frenzy! And a couple years later we got a frenzy going and we’ve got 200,000 people on the waiting list ready to go.
“There’s no better place to play football. Raymond James was so nice, I named it twice. Raymond James North – that’s what we called the Georgia Dome because a couple of our rowdy fans would travel with us and we’d take it over. It was just beautiful, and as I just sit in here and think about all those times, and this man, John Clark, was the first person that told me Raymond James was my house and it’s the house that Sapp built. I also thought that was kind of crazy … It’s a beautiful thing.
“I just think about all the teammates and all the fans that walked in and out of that place. Tampa was a place where they said careers came to die. That’s a lie. Tampa’s a destination. Tampa’s a place where champions live, and we all did it together, no doubt about it. From the ugly orange, to the beautiful pewter, I wouldn’t trade a day for any other uniform or any other place in the world. Tampa’s my home and I love it. I just want to say ‘thank you’, because there’s not much more I can say. Thank you.”Glazer’s next statement:
“The only way to keep a secret in this building is to not tell anybody. So I have more thing I want to add that nobody knows about and its not in the press releases or anything you have today, but on November 11 this year, under the lights of Monday Night Football, not only will we be putting Warren Sapp’s name in the Ring of Honor, but we will also be telling the world that no one else will ever wear the No. 99.”Sapp statement following Glazer’s announcement and media Q & A:What does it mean to have your name on the stadium wall in the Ring of Honor?
"Man, having your name up there beside Coca-Cola and Hess is pretty good! You can have that number but that [name] will hang over you. I’m sitting there thinking like the bowl games that come through, the monster truck events, Sapp is going to be on the wall! Let me explain that. You walk into every stadium ... and I remember looking up at [former Colts offensive lineman] Chris Hinton’s name because I think about him every year because I go to the combine every year, and I think about the story of him beating the hell out of me in a football game. I had to choose between Chris Hinton and Randall McDaniel, and if you know anything about football you don’t choose Randall McDaniel but I didn’t know that Chris Hinton was that [powerful]. He was going to beat me up and talk trash to me, so I said, 'If I’m going to get beat I’m going over to Randall McDaniel’s side and when I saw Chris Hinton, I said, 'Ah so that means something.'"Was there a point this year when you knew getting into the Hall of Fame and the Ring of Honor was a distinct possibility?
"Every day that you play this game you play it one game at a time, one play at a time. You want to put a string of years together and you never think about what will be at the end because the only thing I’ve ever played for was the respect of my teammates and my peers and people that coached with me and against me. If you were picking a football team and you were picking a defense and you came to me to be your under tackle or defensive tackle position, I wanted you to say me. The only way I could do that was to go put it all out on the field because no matter how boisterous I was with what I said in the locker room for you guys, I still had to put it out on the field. There was nothing else that was ever going to define me. The eye in the sky will never lie."Have you talked with Derrick Brooks about getting this honor?
"He should be somewhere in here – unless he’s watching film with the Tampa Bay Storm. I’m not happy with you Brooks. He’s next, I mean his is right behind me. When I got that word, and thank Ira [Kaufman] again for the beautiful presentation, [Brooks] was there on the stage with me. He and I embraced and we’ve been together since we were on the Florida-Georgia team as 17-year old kids in high school and then played each other in college. I went to [play] Florida State and I slept in his room the first time I played that game because I was a redshirt. That’s crazy, I know. Me and him shared so many moments that we’re going to keep sharing for the rest of our lives. His bust should be coming and I’m sure they’re going to put him right there. Come on, 55 and 99 go together forever, baby. The 12th and the 28th pick in the draft in 1995, [the Glazers’] first two picks. We made 18 straight Pro Bowls or something like that, I mean we’re two pretty good players."Talk about what it means to have your number retired on a Monday night and what Monday Night Football was like for your at Raymond James Stadium for so many years.
"You know, we were [so excited] when we got the first one, I mean when that schedule came out it was time for Tampa to show the world that this isn’t where careers came to die and that there’s going to be a championship coming through here at some point. It all came together. Here’s the funny part, and if anybody follows me on Twitter they already know this, I tweet 11:11 all the time. It’s something my sister taught me as a little kid. If you see 11:11 on a clock you rub it and make a wish. My room (number) at college in Miami my junior year, my last year before we played the games at the Orange Bowl was 1111, so it kind of came full circle for me. I’m a numbers guy, so what are you going to do about it? Here it is May 2nd and it was February 2nd [when I got the Hall of Fame announcement]. I’m just here along for the ride, somebody else has preordained it, so I’m just enjoying it."Was there a game the first couple of seasons where you said I’m going to be dominant in the NFL?
"I go back to [Dungy’s] first win. It was 24-13 against Minnesota and Warren Moon was the quarterback. It was one of those games that had us taking off at the end of the year. It was our first win underneath him and we were being taught how to win. From the very basics of 'here’s your gap,' we were being taught the game like children. He was feeding us applesauce and then at a point we were getting have our meats and our chicken and our grains and everything. We were being fed from the bottom up, and once we understood what he wanted from us we played football. Everything came together. We got our championship. That’s the best part about it."
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