Sapp, Sherman Exchange Heated Words
The Tampa Tribune, published 25 November 2002

Four years ago and Green Bay left tackle Chad Clifton wouldn't have been the only one carted off the field. Packers coach Mike Sherman might have joined him if Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp hadn't restrained himself. Sapp and Sherman locked horns in a heated debate following Tampa Bay's 21-7 victory Sunday. A Packers security coordinator kept the two apart. ``He's lucky I'm not 25 without kids and a conscience,'' Sapp said. ``It would have been ugly.''

Sapp added he would have given Sherman a ``whooping.'' ``It's like something that happens in the Canadian League after the game,'' he said. ``Swing on a fan and then go at it.''

The play that caused Sherman to seek out Sapp after the game occurred in the third quarter. With Green Bay ahead, 7-6, Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly intercepted a pass from Packers quarterback Brett Favre. During Kelly's return, Sapp hit Clifton, who laid motionless on the ground for a while. Clifton was carted off the field with a hip injury and taken to a nearby hospital where he complained of numbness. ``Warren Sapp's a great player ... but it looked kind of cheap,'' Sherman said of the hit.

``We get a pick, Brian Kelly's running all over the field,'' Sapp said. ``I see a guy going at my man and I put a lick on him. What's the problem? I didn't clip him in the back. I didn't hit him below the waist. There's no flag on the play. What's the problem here? This is not a contact sport? Nine referees on the field 'didn't find anything wrong with it and I'm sure they're looking at 99.''

Sherman appeared more upset with what he perceived as Sapp celebrating after the play. But Sapp said, following the hit, he got off Clifton and walked over to linebacker Derrick Brooks. Fox football analyst Jimmy Johnson said the hit was a ``cheap shot,'' while broadcast partner Terry Bradshaw termed it a ''legal cheap shot.'' ESPN's Chris Berman and Tom Jackson stated that it looked legal. Sapp's teammates were quick to defend the All-Pro defensive tackle. ``We play hard,'' Barber said. ``We go into every game thinking about hustling and hitting hard. If you get in the way, you're going to get hurt.''

Packer guard Marco Rivera said he would reserve judgment on Sapp until after watching the game film. ``Our guys told me, Warren came around the corner and hit him,'' Rivera said. ``I don't know if it was a good shot or an ugly shot. I'll wait until I see the film. But if it's cheap, I expect more from a guy like Warren Sapp. He's supposed to be a class player.''

In his eight years as an NFL player, Sapp said he's never had a head coach chase him down after a game, not to yell at him anyway. But with Green Bay suffering it's second consecutive loss, Sapp can almost understand Sherman's frustration. ``They've played me long enough. They know I don't play like that,'' Sapp said. ``We've played long enough and we've been in enough wars to where [they] know I'm a between the whistle kind of guy. That's the way I've always played this game. And I don't see what Sherman's talking about.''