Warren Sapp was arrested yesterday, hours before the biggest game of the NFL season. The now retired NFL lineman, NFL Network analyst, and former University of Miami Hurricane, was charged with allegedly choking and assaulting a woman in south Florida. The misdemeanor domestic abuse charge caused the NFL Network to pull Sapp from the air, and cancel his commentary duties for the Super Bowl. The utter cowardice and sadness that is domestic abuse aside, I'm struck by how predictable this case was. Furthermore, my respect for the major media conglomerates continues to take a dive as they hire, promote, and throw money at these undeserving "experts".
Let's take the current pathetic example:
Here we have a man who, from the jump, has branded himself as a brash and loudmouthed hooligan. I attended the Husker Football 202 camp in Lincoln last summer, at which Husker legend Tommie Frazier told the now famous joke about an encounter with Sapp. You all know the story: (more after jump)
Frazier recalled how Sapp approached the junior Quarterback midfield during the 1995 Orange Bowl, after Frazier was sidelined most of the game in favor of Brook Berringer. Although Frazier had been benched most of the season due to medical issues, Sapp chose not to recognize Tommie's journey and his hardship. Instead, Sapp chose to question Fraziers absence in the game by talking a little trash. By now, you know that the final joke was on Sapp, as the Cornhuskers went on to beat Miami 24-17 and win the national championship. The quip with which Frazier responded to Sapp's jibe? "It's not where I've been fat-ass, it's where I'm going."
If this were only true.
Granted, Frazier led the Huskers to another national title in 1995, placed second in the Heisman trophy race, and went on to coach in the Big 12...his playing career ended without ever seeing clock in the NFL. Warren Sapp on the other hand, went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL, while drawing more and more attention to his antics and his over-sized mouth. Sure, he went to the Pro Bowl 7 times, but he also drew huge fines from the league,and was ejected from games due to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Fast forward to the present day. Showtime and the NFL Network, who like ESPN has a history for rotating ex-players through their broadcast booths in an attempt to bring some inside perspective and star power to televised games, signs Sapp to a contract. Some ex-players have been a successin this type of role: Howie Long, Jalen Rose, Desmond Howard, Mark Schlereth, etc. But something about Warren Sapp's ugly mug showing up in my living room just seemed wrong. Did I really want this type of guy telling me what I should be seeing during football games? Has he shown good judgement over the years while on the field? I might have tuned in to hear his take on what happens behind closed doors in pro sports, or possibly how hard it is to learn how to tango, but I doubt his authority on the wholeness of the game. Could Showtime not find anyone else of better character to tell me about a defensive scheme? The job seemed like another in a long line of un-deserved perks, in a career full of questionable intentions and mean-spirited acts. The flash and the drama served him well, stealing attention away from possibly more deserving individuals. Maybe Tommie Frazier or Eric Crouch should try out for Dancing with the Stars?
So, here he is again. The ex-Hurricane with so much to say, and yet very little to respect. He is now appropriately buried deep within the rotted gut one of America's most bedraggled cities. Amongst party-goers, gold diggers, and generally un-savory characters during what is usually the biggest week-long party in the country after Mardi Gras. If you want drama or scandal, check in during Super Bowl week.
Is anyone surprised that Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp, both ex-Hurricanes, are facing possible criminal charges this week after taking a trip back to their old stomping grounds? As a Husker fan, it's easy for me to hate on the Miami players. Hell, it's easy for anyone. Pre-game fights in the streets. Cocaine charges. Gino Toretta winning the Heisman. I could go on and on. There are, however, some good ones out there - maybe Warren should look up Bernie Kosar the next time he needs a travelling buddy in Miami? I heard Vinny likes the beaches.
In all fairness, this guy (along with Irvin) was a great player. He had sucess, earned a Super Bowl ring, and made his mark on the face of pro football. I can respect that much. People are human beings, and they make mistakes...although usually just once or twice before learning from their mistakes. In the world of celebrity and fame, even the most principled of us can fall from grace. Tiger Woods anyone? Scanless women, can make a career out of falsely accusing and suing pro atheletes. These people are disgusting in their own right. But there are only so many chances a guy like Sapp should get...
Lastly, I just want to say that if these charges turn out to be founded....Warren Sapp needs to be banned from the vista of popular sports coverage. Rape, domestic abuse, and assault are no joke.This guy does not deserve, nor does he need any more attention and money from the American fan. Recently, fans of this site tried to find a worthy comparison to Ndamukong Suh - the pride of Nebraska Football's rebirth. Warren Sapp was mentioned. Although strictly from a physical standpoint, this may have been a remote possibility. But as a complete player, person, and representative of the game itself..Suh is in a whole different class than Warren Sapp.
Maybe someday the media will wake up, and pay the real men, the Dwight Freeneys and Ndamukong Suhs of the world, to comment on what a defensive player really should be thinking.