If there is one thing you can count on from former Bucs star and first ballot Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, it is that the big man will always speak his mind.
Last week the Baltimore Ravens tweeted that former Florida State standout, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, was changing his uniform number to No. 99 as a tribute to Sapp.
“I always grew up watching Warren Sapp,” Jernigan said according to ESPN.com. “I looked up to him. I definitely wanted to model my game after him.”
Sapp, who was not amused or honored at the decision, tweeted back, “How do I stop this?”
On Wednesday, PewterReport.com spoke exclusively with Sapp about what he meant in his tweet responding to Jernigan switching jersey numbers.
“It was just more peculiar. I was introduced to him while he was at Florida State by a mutual friend of both of ours,” Sapp said. “I don’t want to call that person out, but he is a great friend of mine. So I reached out to the kid (Jernigan) and said, ‘Well here is my (phone) number,’ and then he calls me and reciprocates (exchanging numbers). I told him before he left for the draft, ‘Whatever you need, if you want to work out, do a little bag drills whatever you want, just let me know when you come to South Florida or I’ll come to Tampa or wherever you want to meet me at.’
“So the draft happened and he had one of those things happen at the draft like I did, where you go a little lower than where you expect to have went. So after that went down I placed a text message and a call to him and said, ‘Listen son, now your career takes off. It’s not where you are drafted, it is what you do after you are drafted that make a career. You can’t have a career until you start one. The way to start one is, go to work. So I just tried to give him some encouragement since I know what that is like to be sitting there and having the world say things about you that makes you almost question yourself. I wanted to give him some reinforcement and say, ‘Hey there were 11 guys picked before me and not one of them can stand and say they have anything on me.'”
Sapp said the two never spoke after that. Why Jernigan wouldn’t seek out any help or advice from a Hall of Famer that he supposedly admired is curious.
“That was the last conversation I had with the young man (in 2014). So for someone to say, ‘Hey, I want to pay tribute to someone, and I have their phone number,’ I would think you might want to try and call that person and say, ‘Hey dawg, I was thinking something…’ You know what I am saying?”
“I’m not just trying to hold up my standard – I’m only the fifth defensive tackle first ballot Hall of Famer in NFL history – the ones before me were Bob Lilly, Merlin Olson, Mean Joe Greene and Randy White. I am in a company of five, so when you talk about me, you better bring the other four with me because that is the standard that I held myself to.”
Timmy Jernigan –Photo: Getty Images
Sapp, who makes regular trips to Tampa and to One Buccaneer Place to keep tabs on his former team, continued to explain.
“Joe Cullen, the old D-line coach that was down in Tampa, is in Baltimore now, and I have already had four conversations with him about coming up to Baltimore,” Sapp said. “So how am I not going to have a conversation with the guy that wants to put a number on his back? That’s not my number. He (Jernigan) put my name in it (the story). And to put my name in it, makes it personal to me.”
Some have speculated that Sapp’s issue with Jernigan was because he was a Seminole in college and Sapp was a Miami Hurricane legend, but Sapp dispelled that myth.
“It had nothing to do with Florida State, it was just this kid personally had my phone number,” Sapp said. “He’s had my number before he even got to Baltimore [and never called].”
PewterReport.com asked Sapp what he would have said to Jernigan had he called him first before changing jersey numbers.
“Go out and make a name for yourself for you,” Sapp said. “Don’t go and use a first ballot defensive tackle that you will now be judged against. Are you kidding me? Who signed up for that?”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya’ll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
Why does anybody care?
oh warren. just keep chasing away all traces of admiration and respect for you that exist in the world. Still one of my all time favorites with the pads & helmet on, but i can’t understand or defend your choices off the field
The guy is a Baltimore Raven and wants to wear 99 because he admires Sapp;s game, what is the big deal.
Did Sapp get coprights to the No, 99 in the entire NFL?
Give me a break big fella.
Maybe all this crazy talk is just Sapp setting up the NFL for another concussion lawsuit.
I can see where Sapp is coming from.
It’s not that he has a problem with the guy wearing the number…
It’s the fact that Jernigan has Sapp’s phone number, but yet doesn’t even ask him for advice or guidance, and then pays “tribute” to him. It’s completely off-the-wall.
Jernigan is an NFL player, and if he wants to wear 99, that’s fine, but like Sapp said, he should be more focused on making a name for himself.
Sapp is being an idiot. Seems like he’d have more important things in his life to blather about.
He was asked about something and gave his feelings on it. It’s not like he called a press conference to talk about it. I see where he’s coming from, but he’s being a bit petty.
Any truth to the rumor that Jameis decided to go with # 3 instead of his FSU # 5 as a tribute to former kicker Matt Bryant because that 62 yard game winning FG against Jameis’ beloved Eagles (at the time) really made an impression on the youngster?
I thought he just wanted to be as far away from Josh Freeman as possible. 🙂
Since scubog posed a question, I will only offer what the Bucs said when his jersey was issued – that 3 was the first number he wore as a football player. Any of the above could be true. For all I know, his grandma may have picked the number. lol.
“I’m not just trying to hold up my standard – I’m only the fifth defensive tackle first ballot Hall of Famer in NFL history – the ones before me were Bob Lilly, Merlin Olson, Mean Joe Greene and Randy White. I am in a company of five, so when you talk about me, you better bring the other four with me because that is the standard that I held myself to.” I have to type that those guys are incredible company for Warren to be in. I never realized that fact before now. VERY impressive and I get where he is coming from here.
Sapp, what a great player, that’s where it ends
Oh, man, Sapp got his feelings hurt again.
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” “Go sell crazy somewhere else Sapp, we’re all stocked up here.”
Sapp wanted to say but tried to be politically correct…. “Keep my name out your mouth”
Let’s see, Jernigan thinks Sapp was a great player, but won’t call him because he’s an asshole. Pretty much the way everyone feels about Sapp.
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