By Ryan Glasspiegel – Follow Sports Rapport on Twitter
Full Disclosure: I hate Warren Sapp with a seething, fiery passion. Tied with Jared Allen (whom I can and will talk about for hours at a later time), he is my least favorite athlete in professional sports history. While it was a legal football play, his blindside sucker-block on Chad Clifton was egregiously dirty. I hated him before that hit and I’ve HATED him ever since. If you watch that clip of Sapp saying he would take that play back, you will see that his remorse is insincere. And there’s little I hate more than insincerity. (Say this for Sapp, though: to reach the top tier of sports hate, you have to be a really fucking good player.)
It’s been an offseason of pretty satisfying schadenfreude for Sapp haters such as myself. First, he outed Jeremy Shockey as the Saints snitch in Bountygate and got publicly shamed. Then, he filed for bankruptcy, claiming that he’s racked up “millions of dollars in debt” and “lost his 2002 Super Bowl ring.” (He is wearing said “lost” Super Bowl ring on the cover of his upcoming “autobiography.”) Then, Greg Bedard reported in the Boston Globe that Sapp wouldn’t be fired by NFL Network but that his contract would not be renewed. YES!!!!! This was GREAT news!!!!!
THEN, out of nowhere, came Michael Heistand’s story in the USA Today:
In revealing the move publicly for the first time, NFLN executive producer Eric Weinberger tells USA Today Sports that “this is probably going to be news to some blogs and articles out there who’ve said his time is up here, but we picked up an option year on his contract.” Sapp’s on-air duties, including working NFLN’s Sunday pregame show, will remain essentially the same.
You can almost hear the condescension in Weinberger’s tone of voice and see his eyes roll and nose wrinkle he says the word, “blogs,” even though the news originated from one of the best NFL beat reporters at one of the most respected newspapers in the country–Bedard was almost definitely relaying information that was accurate at the time but has since changed. And, Bedard’s information should have been accurate because Warren Sapp is a horrible choice to represent the NFL Network’s brand. (For Weinberger to question other institution’s journalistic credibility when he is announcing a renewal of Warren Sapp’s contract is like Snooki calling someone an alcoholic.)
For society to optimally function, it is extremely important for whistleblowers to be able to expose corrupt institutions anonymously. It’s the most important defense we have against wholesale injustice. In publicly outing Jeremy Shockey as “the snitch”–and it’s a safe bet to assume that Sapp’s information was accurate because there’s no WAY Sapp would be brought back if he falsely incriminated an innocent party–Sapp implied that whoever exposed the Saints bounty system did something wrong. This is the same neanderthal mentality that created a system where players were incentivized to INJURE opponents in the first place.
(For the Saints truthers: Listen to the creepy Gregg Williams tape. The Saints were not the only team with a bounty program but they’re the only one who got caught, instructed players to lie, had their head coach lie about the program to Roger Goodell, and failed to eliminate the program after they knew they were being investigated. This is what Warren Sapp, an employee of the same NFL that is actively seeking to improve player safety, was vilifying a whistleblower for exposing.)
Sapp’s keeping his job would be more understandable if he was any good at it. He’s not. He spouts platitudes and gets into dumb shouting matches. He has absolutely no humility and makes no connection with intelligent viewers. If you’ve watched his broadcasting, has he ever taught you anything? He’s been in the trenches but so have thousands of others who are dying to take his place. Charles Barkley can get away with getting a DUI en route to receiving a blow job because he analyzes basketball insightfully with brilliant comedic timing. Marv Albert can be a sexual deviant because he’s the best play-by-play announcer that ever lived.<
Why does Sapp get this treatment?
“Oh, we can’t change it to ESPN. I have to hear what Warren Sapp has to say about my team. He’s so great!”
I guess we’ll have to wait for the next time he says or does something stupid. It’ll happen eventually.