Pewter Report Intern
In an interview with 98.7 The Fan, former Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice jumped into the war of words between Tampa Bay legend Warren Sapp and former Giants greats Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber. Sapp has questioned Strahan's Hall of Fame credentials and believes that Rice is just as deserving for induction.
Former Buccaneers defensive tackle and 2013 Hall of Famer Warren Sapp is no stranger to headlines. Sapp made national news this week when his verbally sparred with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who he recently beat out to get into the Hall of Fame, reached a new level. Sapp told the Tampa Tribune that his former teammate defensive end Simeon Rice deserved to be in the Hall of Fame before Strahan.
“Simeon was a better rusher than Michael Strahan any day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Sapp said. “(Rice) didn't rush the worst lineman. You know the right tackle is the worst of the five. Strahan played right end his first four years. When they were putting the label on him as a bust, they put ‘B-U-S. OK, let's transition him on the other side and see if he can play in his fourth year.’
“They put him at right end and he couldn't do it, so they moved him to the weak guy. One-on-one with the (Eagles right tackle) Jon Runyans for eight quarters every year. [Simeon] won't ever have his name brought up (for the Hall of Fame), and that's a shame. He's one of the best pass rushers I've ever encountered in my life.”
Rice was a major part in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory in 2003. Over his career, he racked up 122 sacks in 12 seasons, while Strahan had 141.5 sacks over 15 seasons. Strahan also holds the record for most sacks in a season (22.5), which came in 2001. Rice is Tampa Bay’s third-leading sacker with 69.5 QB captures.
In response to those comments, former Giants running back Tiki Barber and brother of Sapp’s former teammate, Bucs defensive back Ronde Barber, lashed out at Sapp.
“Warren’s an idiot,” Barber said. “He just wants to say things to be idiotic. I played with Stray for my whole career. He is the greatest of the great. He is a great teammate, he kept things light, but on game day he was as serious as a heart attack and it showed in his play.”
Following Sapp and Barber’s comments, Simeon Rice spoke with former Bucs defensive tackle and sports talk radio hosts Anthony “Booger” McFarland and Rich Herrera on “The Booger and Rich Show” on 98.7 FM The Fan to discuss how he felt about their comments.
“I can’t compare my pass rush skills – I felt mine were unparalleled,” Rice said. “My skill level was unparalleled. I think [Strahan’s] are great too. I think he was really good. He did his thing and he had a great career. Obviously myself, and looking at what I was able to do, I was able to perform at the highest [level]. I felt like I was in a class of my own.”
Buccaneers fans can agree that for much of his career he was in a league of his own. But, as Sapp said, Rice’s name hasn’t even been mentioned to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When talking about future Buccaneers Hall of Famers, it’s always Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and now Barber in that discussion.
“I used to [feel slighted],” Rice said. “When I played, I always used to play like – I played with a chip. I felt like I never got the respect I deserved. I felt like brilliance and greatness in any league goes noticed. But I felt like mine was always associated with great talent and not hard work.
“Waking up at 8:00 in the morning and going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and working every hour in between in the offseason. I just think people associated myself to God-given abilities and talent. I don’t think the work ethic was considered into that aspect. And even the performances that I would have year in and year out, it was just … something that you would expect and not something that people would celebrate.”
The fact that Rice isn’t really considered a future Hall of Famer doesn’t bother him as much as it might most players. Rice feels content with the career he had, and if it doesn’t land him in Canton, Ohio he knows he will be remembered regardless.
“I think you look at 99 percent of the league,” Rice said. “And they would want to have 100-plus sacks in 10 years and they would want to average more sacks than anybody did at that time. Looking back now, I can only be content and happy at the body of work I left behind, because one thing that [we] talked about was the future players would learn from the tape of our past. And I think that’s kind of where I am now.
“Rod [Marinelli] calls me and tells me that our film is alive and well with the Chicago Bears. And now he calls me and tells me that our film is alive and well with the Dallas Cowboys and they’re still learning how we get down and how we rush and how special we did things. That goes to show the world our impact on the game.”
Sapp is known for always speaking his mind and being straightforward. A lot of people may think that Sapp said Rice was better than Strahan just because they were teammates on the Buccaneers. On the contrary, because they were teammates Sapp knew Rice as well as anybody, and if he thinks Rice deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, then he probably does.
“I love Sapp,” Rice said. “[There were times] where we weren’t the best of friends, but one thing that we were was always real, 100 percent real in that locker room. If you weren’t real in that locker room, you could not walk in that door.
“If you balled, and you did it in a distinct way and you were dominant, Warren was going to be the first one to give you props, whether he liked you or not. And I think that’s what he’s speaking to. I don’t think [Tiki Barber] really knows the knowledge that Warren is coming with.”
Rice agrees that he should be in the Hall of Fame, but unlike Sapp, he was quick to give props to a deserving player.
“I back up Warren’s sentiment 100 percent,” Rice said. “But on that same level, I also give Michael Strahan as much props. He had a really great career as well.”
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