Warren Carlos Sapp is a former American football defensive tackle. A Hall of Famer, Sapp played college football for the University of Miami, where he was recognized as a consensus All-American and won multiple awards. Sapp played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1995 to 2007 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. Following Sapp's NFL career, he was an analyst on NFL Network until 2015.
Sapp was drafted by the Buccaneers in the 1995 NFL Draft as the 12th overall pick. In his nine seasons with the Buccaneers, he earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl ring in 2002. He moved to the Raiders in 2004. His 96.5 career sacks (100 with playoffs included) are the second-highest career sacks for a defensive tackle and the 28th-highest overall for a defensive lineman. His 77 sacks with the Buccaneers are the second-most in the team's history to Lee Roy Selmon's 78.5.
In his first year of eligibility, on February 2, 2013, he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Buccaneers entered him into their Ring of Honor on November 11, 2013, and retired his number 99 jersey. Sapp became the second Buccaneer to have his jersey retired, after Selmon.
Sapp was born in Orlando, Florida and raised in Plymouth, Florida by a single mother. During the late 1980s, he was honored for outstanding football play at Apopka High School in Apopka, Florida at linebacker, tight end, place-kicker and punter. He holds school records for sacks, tackles for a loss, and longest field goal. A two-sport athlete in high school, he also played third base on the baseball team and hit a school record 24 home runs his junior year for the Blue Darters. In high school football, his hard tackle of Johnny Damon in a game against Dr. Phillips High School team gave the future major league baseball star a concussion.
In 2007, Sapp was named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team comprising the top 33 players in a hundred years of high school football in his home state.
Many top nationally ranked college football programs recruited Sapp, who chose the University of Miami. Converted to defensive lineman while there, he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (for best defensive player), the Rotary Lombardi Award (for best lineman or linebacker) and the Bill Willis Award (for best defensive lineman), all in 1994.
Awards and honors
• Second-team All-American (1993)
• 2× First-team All-Big East (1993–1994)
• Consensus first-team All-American (1994)
• Lombardi Award (1994)
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy (1994)
• Bill Willis Award (1994)
• Outland Trophy finalist (1994)
• Big East Defensive Player of the Year (1994)
• Defensive Player of the Year by Football Writers Association of America
After his illustrious college football career at the University of Miami as a defensive standout, Sapp was drafted into the NFL by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1995 draft (as the 12th pick overall). Analysts at the time thought he would be drafted much higher, but partially due to reports of multiple failed cocaine and marijuana tests released the night before the draft many teams passed on him. The NFL released a statement strongly denying the rumors, and Sapp today believes an anonymous snitch had intentionally sabotaged his draft chances. Three years later (in 1998), he signed a contract extension paying $36 million over six years. He ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash for a defensive tackle (4.69 sec). He was almost immediately given the starting job as Buccaneer right defensive tackle which he held for his entire nine-year stay in Tampa. He finished his rookie season with 27 tackles and one interception and continued to be a prolific, intimidating tackler for the Buccaneers, (51 tackles and nine sacks in 1996, 58 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 1997). His Pro Bowl selection in 1997 was the first of seven straight, and he was honored as NFL Defensive Player of the year in 1999.
He flourished in the Bucs' aggressive Tampa 2 defense, which allowed him to put his devastating combination of size and speed to good use. He disrupted the opposition's offense even when double- or even triple-teamed on the line.
In 2002, Sapp helped lead a powerful Tampa Bay team to victory in Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders. He made five tackles and two sacks during that 2002-2003 postseason, and was a key component in the league-leading Buccaneer defense.
In 2004, Sapp was reportedly interested in accepting a contract offer from the Cincinnati Bengals for four years worth US $16 million, but on March 20 he announced he had agreed to terms on a seven-year, $36.6 million contract with the Oakland Raiders, the same team he had routed in the Super Bowl in early 2003.
He started all 16 games in his first season in Oakland, splitting time at defensive end and defensive tackle, recording 30 tackles (18 solo) and 2.5 sacks and recovering two fumbles after having lost an estimated 20 pounds before joining the Raiders for the 2004 season.
His 2005 season got off to a great beginning back in his familiar DT position. He started the first ten games of the season with 29 tackles (26 of them solo), and finished second on the team to Derrick Burgess with five sacks before being sidelined for the last six games of 2005 with a shoulder injury.
He returned to his All-Pro form in 2006. Sapp and the defense were one of very few bright spots for the 2006 Raiders. He had 10 sacks to go along with 32 tackles (16 solo) and one forced fumble.
He lost 49 lb before the 2007 season, and recorded 37 tackles (24 solo), 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
On January 3, 2008, Sapp told Raider owner Al Davis over the phone that he would retire and confirmed this on his website qbkilla.com in just two words: "I'M DONE!” The retirement became official on March 4, 2008.
At the time of his retirement, Sapp was one of only six defensive players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl, be named Defensive Player of the Year and win a Super Bowl or pre-Super-Bowl NFL title. The others are Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Lester Hayes, Lawrence Taylor, Bob Sanders, Reggie White, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Sapp's former teammate, Derrick Brooks. Michael Strahan, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Charles Woodson and Terrell Suggs have since joined the list. He is now reckoned as the prototype three-technique defensive tackle, and ever since his retirement NFL teams scouting defensive tackles have reportedly been looking for a "Baby Sapp."
He was selected to seven Pro Bowls, was named a First-Team All-Pro four times and a Second-Team All-Pro twice, voted to the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams and, most impressively, earned Defensive Player of the Year honors after an amazing 16.5-sack season in 2000. Although he left the Bucs as a free agent after the 2003 season to finish his career with the Raiders, he'll be most remembered as one of the leaders of the imposing Buc defenses of the late 1990s and early 2000s.