Bring on that slimmer, motivated Warren Sapp!

By Os Davis  |   Tuesday, August 14, 2007  |  Comments( 51 )

Oakland Raiders
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Warren Sapp, 2007 edition, was described as "looking good," "flying around" on the field, and even simply "awesome" before he put the pads on at minicamp.

The stat most compelling to Oakland Raiders commentators formal and informal about Sapp was 50. As in pounds lost. By all reports (gotta go by reports, as he left it to the other defenders to perform the ritual crushing of the Arizona offensive line), Sapp is one lean, mean, fighting machine who at 34 years old may be ready to play the best football of his life.

If you've been following the game for a long time - and did you realize that Sapp debuted in 1995? Sheesh - you'll recall Sapp as the team captain for Tony Dungy's Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he anchored a defense to be reckoned with. Though still a consistent performer in the Super Bowl-winning season of 2002, new coach Jon Gruden had taken to pulling Sapp on third downs and in the fourth quarter.

(Incidentally, does anyone remember the interview Sapp gave as part of the pre-Super Bowl hype in which he described the Buccaneers' aspirations as "to become the greatest football team in the universe"? Brilliant!)

Sapp came to the Raiders in what some consider shady circumstances in 2003, announcing at one point that he'd actually come to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing a seven-year deal valued at some $36 million-plus with Oakland.

Since coming to Oakland in 2004, the self-styled "QB Killa" (really - that's his official personal Web site: hasn't disappointed. Last season, he played as a younger, smarter version of himself on an underrated Raider 'D', turning in his best statistical season since about 2000 or so.

At his sub-300-pound weight, a fast Sapp will be something to see, Raider backer or no.

Enthused defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in some hilarious stream-of-consciousness dutifully recorded by a reporter: "He's so committed to playing championship football and he's great people. I'm proud of him and hopefully some of him will rub off on me, it hasn't yet, but we love him and he's been great. He was probably one of our best defensive players last year, and really the year before he got hurt. We expect awesome things from Warren and he demands something from everyone on the defense as well. ... It's a pleasure to see him out there and [to see him] back like [when he was] in the Tampa Bay days."

And DE Derrick Burgess recently commented that Sapp looked "funny," also saying he "Looks good, though. I like what he did for himself. That should add about six more sacks to it, I bet."

Six more sacks? Meaning ol' No. 99 will go for 16 - one per game - this year? Scary.

All this and he's motivated, too. Here's the line from the man himself: "I put up 10 sacks and the dudes they sent to the Pro Bowl had nine I think combined."

(Note: Starting DTs Richard Seymour and Jamal Williams totaled six.)

"We were the third-rated defense. I felt a little disrespected that I put in this game that many years and I put up that kind of year and it was just overlooked."

You won't have to be a Raider fan to appreciate Sapp this season, it seems. This writer remembers the excitement Sapp brought to those Tampa Bay teams, one of the most exciting players to watch on defense since L.T. himself. I, for one, can't wait to see the damage he does in 2007.
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About Os Davis

Os Davis has taken a twisted route to get to in his nearly 17 years in professional writing, working in any number of capacities in the sportswriting, news reporting and film criticism worlds. In print media, Os has served as editor at a few publications, including Albuquerque's...
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CommentsComments: 51  |  Sign Up  View all comments
Raider Glory
01:04 AM
The main thing to look for in pre-season, is the score at half-time. Last season we were winning these games, all in the second...
01:06 AM
I think our D, especially Sapp, has a chip on their shoulder. They sound like they expect to dominate and flat shut folks down....
01:08 AM
Sapp is our veteran defensive leader! he many not be what he was in the late 90s, but I'm willing to bet with the weight loss, he...
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