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Sapp’s candidacy for Canton will be a good litmus test for voters

Sapp Getty Images

Ten months ago, Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune lamented his looming task of trying to persuade enough other Hall of Fame voters to give defensive tackle Warren Sapp a spot in Canton.

“Some of those people in that room are looking for a reason to vote ‘no’ on this guy based on the way he treated them,” Kaufman explained in April.  “We don’t need any more ammo.  We don’t need him getting fired from NFL Network, which could happen.  We don’t need the bankruptcy.  We don’t need him getting him in trouble with Jeremy Shockey.  Whether it’s true or not, he shouldn’t have said [that Shockey was the Saints bounty snitch].   All these ancillary things are not helping my case.  So from a very selfish and personal point of view, he’s killin’ me.”

And while no one ever will articulate that they won’t vote “no” for a given player because, as Peter King articulately put it on last night’s Pro Football Talk, the voter thinks the player is a “turd,” those factors will necessarily creep into the minds of some of the voters when the time comes to check yes or no.

Technically, the Hall of Fame’s rules and regulations prohibit consideration of anything that happens off the field.  As a practical matter, however, voters are influenced by things that happen outside the white lines, especially in close cases.

Even though I’ve had my share of run-ins with Sapp (and I still have the text messages to prove it), I’d like to think that I’d be willing to set aside the fact that, yes, he can be aggressive and hostile and downright mean (but also funny and charming and downright friendly) in order to put him where he belongs, in the Hall of Fame.

If enough of the voters feel that way, Sapp should get in today.  If they don’t, it will be appropriate to wonder whether the way Sapp treated the media and otherwise conducted his business away from the business of football affected his exclusion.

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43 Responses to “Sapp’s candidacy for Canton will be a good litmus test for voters”
  1. RoofDude says: Feb 2, 2013 10:38 AM

    Everybody is bias. It’s human nature. You can’t change that aspect. Having said that, I think he belongs inside the HOF.

  2. jaggedmark says: Feb 2, 2013 10:40 AM

    Normally, I would agree with the litmus test assessment, however, this is such a tough group to vote from, if he doesn’t get in, it may have nothing to do with his off-field character.

  3. fdugrad says: Feb 2, 2013 10:47 AM

    Cris Carter’s personality and attitude are contributing factors leading to his exclusion up until this day. He clearly has the stats on the field.

  4. FlyFromTheInside says: Feb 2, 2013 10:54 AM

    Sapp doesn’t make it this year

  5. johnnyb216 says: Feb 2, 2013 10:56 AM

    Not a hall of famer. Good but not great. Was a total non factor for the second half of his career.

  6. TheWizard says: Feb 2, 2013 10:59 AM

    I don’t care how they vote, but I’ll never sit and watch a show that has him doing commentary.

    Can’t stand him.

  7. jjb0811 says: Feb 2, 2013 11:02 AM

    It doesn’t matter what we think 40 dudes lock themselves away and never tell anyone how they voted. For the American game, the HoF is run to secretively. Except when the voters claiming ‘so & so is a HoF’er’ while still playing. I hate that the most.

  8. jr4real says: Feb 2, 2013 11:04 AM

    No chance does he deserve HOF. He will get in because he’s on TV. Just like Steve Young.

  9. kingdm8 says: Feb 2, 2013 11:16 AM

    I don’t know how ANYONE who watched and followed the NFL in the 90s and 2000s would NOT vote for Sapp. The guy won everything there was to win and set multiple records for a defensive lineman. The guy was one of the top five or six defenders of his era. He needs to be in, period.

  10. stillworker says: Feb 2, 2013 11:19 AM

    “johnnyb216 says:

    ‘Not a hall of famer. Good but not great. Was a total non factor for the second half of his career.’ ”

    Ditto!! No way he belongs in Canton.

  11. conewalker says: Feb 2, 2013 11:19 AM

    However, the guy above who says Sapp was a non-factor 2nd half of his career…completely wrong. The Raiders had some crappy teams but Sapp and the D were pretty good, look it up.

  12. effjohntaylornorelation says: Feb 2, 2013 11:26 AM

    I hope his behavior does affect him

  13. champs794 says: Feb 2, 2013 11:30 AM

    Cris Carter trails only Jerry Rice in so many categories. With his knowledge of the game and the best hands in the league, he was always there to move the sticks on third down.

    Seems unlikely that he’s been denied these years for his play on the field.

  14. wtfchiefs says: Feb 2, 2013 11:47 AM

    Micheal Irvin and Lawrence Taylor are in. Enough said.

  15. hatesycophants says: Feb 2, 2013 11:53 AM

    Absolute and total BS. Warren Sapp is a jackass. However, if you eliminated every jackass in the history of the NFL from consideration, it would be as hollow as the MLB HoF. If you know anything about football and defense, you have to vote yes on Sapp. It is not possible to legitimately come to any other conclusion.

    Carter is on the margin.

  16. EJ says: Feb 2, 2013 12:05 PM

    Biased? Yes. Most are. No, I do not believe that Warren Sapp deserves to be put into the Hall of Fame this early after retiring. The only reason that would get him put in would be the fact that he is on TV. I can see the TV executives congregating and coming to the conclusion that when his name is announced : With Former NFL Player Warren Sapp < With NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp. I'm sure that the big market of television will have some influence on getting Sapp in early.

  17. jlinatl says: Feb 2, 2013 12:10 PM

    There probably won’t be many that completely disqualify him, but with only 5 spots something has to be the tie breaker once a voter narrows the list to 7 or 8.

    When I lived in Tampa, there were many stories of him being nasty to fans as well as media.

    If it becomes a factor… and I think it will for some voters… he has only himself to blame.

  18. facebook.com/joesimmonscomic AKA Slow Joe (Bucs fan) says: Feb 2, 2013 12:19 PM

    I think he’s a slam dunk HOFer, but it’s a tough field so I’m not sure it’s this year.

    As for whoever above said he was a non-factor the second half of his career: maybe he was watching Benny Sapp? Warren Sapp spent nine seasons with the Bucs and was a beast for all of them. I didn’t follow him much with the Raiders but I know he had a double-digit sack season in the silver and black as well.

  19. surran70065 says: Feb 2, 2013 12:22 PM

    “Some of those people in that room are looking for a reason to vote ‘no’ on this guy based on the way he treated them”
    ___________________________

    That right there is reason enough to take this decision out of the hands of these people. I don’t card if he took a dump in their shoes. If his career merits it, he should get in.

  20. mizzousooner says: Feb 2, 2013 12:38 PM

    Played for the U, played for the Raiders.

    Thumbs down!

  21. demolition510 says: Feb 2, 2013 12:43 PM

    I hope he gets in just for the simple fact that we won’t have to hear his guns flapping if he didn’t. Can’t you imagine how much MORE he would talk and all those stupid exaggerated facial expressions?

  22. kingpel says: Feb 2, 2013 12:49 PM

    You cant mention Cris Carter in the same sentence as Warren Sapp. Sapp was the most dominant player on the league’s most dominant defense for years. He is one of the all-time greats.

    Carter isn’t even as good as his teammate and real difference maker, Randy Moss, who will be a first ballot guy.

    Sapp, Allen and Ogden should go in for sure.

  23. CKL says: Feb 2, 2013 1:08 PM

    Lost in all this is the comments Goodell made awhile back about wanting character to count in HOF. I love character guys on my team but I disagree with him. It should be what a guy did on the field ONLY. And if it isn’t just about on the field stuff, there are some busts in there now that need to be removed.

    That’s one reason why writers should be only a part of who gets to vote (I think it should be mostly scouts, GMs, coaches), because they may have the tendency to use a guy’s media relations as a reason to vote for someone else, even if they don’t voice that in meetings.

  24. kingdm8 says: Feb 2, 2013 1:28 PM

    Geez… Anyone who gives thumbs down to those of us that know Sapp should be in must have lived under a rock while he was playing. Dude was dominant for one of the best defenses in the league.

  25. bpanz2012 says: Feb 2, 2013 1:33 PM

    he deserves this as much as he deserved DWS
    globe

  26. theysone says: Feb 2, 2013 1:44 PM

    If off-field actions didn’t count, Charles Haley would already be in the hall.

    If Sapp gets in before Haley, it’d be a travesty.

  27. autumnwind999 says: Feb 2, 2013 1:48 PM

    He will go into the Hall and deserves to, but I don’t think he’s necessarily a first-ballot guy. There are other guys who are just as worthy as Sapp who aren’t in yet. As much as people hate on Sapp for his personality, it’s also bought him a lot of publicity and that awareness has also inflated his “greatness” to a degree. He was largely a one-dimensional, pass rushing DT.

  28. autumnwind999 says: Feb 2, 2013 1:53 PM

    Tim Brown is the guy who needs to finally go in.

    1. Tim Brown
    2. Larry Allen
    2a. Jonathan Ogden
    4. Bill Parcells
    5. Charles Haley
    ————-
    6. Carter
    7. Reed
    8. Strahan
    9. Sapp

  29. jeagan1999 says: Feb 2, 2013 1:55 PM

    During the late 90′s and early 2000′s, Warren Sapp was the most disruptive force in any NFL defense. He lived in opposing backfileds, sacked the quarterback, stuffed runs behind the line of scrimmage and generaly caused chaos and mayhem every Sunday. The other teams tried to double and sometimes even triple team him and he still racked up incredible numbers for a defensive lineman. You may not like him as a person, or condone things he has done after he left the game, but he forever changed the way coaches and coordinators look at the DT position and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for his play.

  30. bartlettruss says: Feb 2, 2013 2:08 PM

    Yeah, not to mention his hit on Chad Clifton. Sapp has no remorse (apparently) for any of the crummy things he’s done. If Cris Carter is being held out of the hall based on bad behavior then it’s a lock for Sapp not to make it.

    I think he’s a creep and won’t watch any program he’s on. The NFL if full of it for allowing him on their network after his “snitch comment” against Shockey. Probably ended the man’s career.

  31. docr8der says: Feb 2, 2013 2:22 PM

    I feel real bad that this guy has to advocate for Sapp. IMO a turd in the punchbowl of football.
    The really sad thing is that the guys who arent media darlings yet deserve the HOF dont have advocates: Ray Guy…enough said.
    Dave Dalby, anchored the line at center for 3 Super Bowl winning teams killed in a car wreck too young. Cliff Branch…gee, at least 200 more receptions than media darling/politician Lynn Swann.
    Yea, they’re Raiders but look at their contributions, not the lack of notoreity.
    The voting has become a joke. I bleed silver n black but I didnt agree with Howie Long being inducted so quick. Was it the Teri Hatcher affect?
    Put guys in who deserve it. Start with the guys who have waited decades, not push guys thru on first ballot years.

  32. exibitsman says: Feb 2, 2013 2:42 PM

    I think joe klecko belongs in the H.O.F before Warren sapp .klecko was all pro at 3 different position,s
    And had a 20 sack season playing DT position.

  33. Slim Charles says: Feb 2, 2013 2:48 PM

    Sapp is a moron, but self-righteous sports writers are even worse. The only people who should vote for the HOF are current/retired players and coaches.

  34. joewilliesshnoz says: Feb 2, 2013 3:03 PM

    Looks like he got a couple nice busts already !

  35. cintiphil says: Feb 2, 2013 3:23 PM

    I don’t think he played that long in the league to be considered one of the best etc. etc.. He had a talent to be sure, but he was also overrated in my opinion. He apparently had little endurance as a lineman. he would take himself out of the game when he got winded or too tired. What knod of HOF player had done that in the past? I just think he is not of the same level as a true HOF. I have to admit in either case, I don’t care.

  36. tombstone7 says: Feb 2, 2013 3:34 PM

    If the HOf committee will keep a player out of HOF because of some of thethings he has done after he left the game, how about throwing guys out of the HOF after they have made it…e.g Joe Namath & Lawrence Taylor. They wouldn’t dare do it because they are punk a#* cowards in the first place.

    Sapp’s play warrants his election to the HOF as all others!

  37. handsofsweed says: Feb 2, 2013 3:58 PM

    That poor girl on the right in that pic is leaning away from him bc his breath smells like an onion dipped in baby sh*t.

  38. edgerules says: Feb 2, 2013 4:04 PM

    Sapp is such a jerk, and such a moron on Twitter, that I had to block him on there. His play, which SHOULD be the ONLY factor, IS Hall of Fame worthy.

    However, the 40 plus writers have their stupid biases, and crap, and if they are keeping Haley out, then I am afraid Sapp is going to be kept out too.

  39. whatjusthapped says: Feb 2, 2013 5:11 PM

    Sapp is totally overrated. Had a few good years out of the gate and then coasted.

    The fact that he is a turd, an egotistical blowhard and stupid shouldn’t be held against him. Its the totality of his career that is just slightly above average that will keep him out.

  40. arson81 says: Feb 2, 2013 5:12 PM

    Wow.

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it’s obvious that alot of the nay sayers never saw Sapp play, or didn’t understand what they were watching.

    Sapp, along with John Randle really put a spotlight on the 3-technique “undertackle” position. If you know anything about the Cover 2 scheme, then you would understand it is predicated on getting a dominant rush from just four down linemen a majority of the time. Having a havoc-wreaking menace like Sapp that commanded double and triple teams from an interior position is what made the Bucs defense of that era one of the greatest in NFL history. As good as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber were…if they didn’t have Sapp they would not have been as dominant a unit.

    He almost had 100 sacks as a dt. That in of itself is remarkable. He was only one of only five defenders in history to be named to 2 All Decade teams. He was as good against the run in that one gap scheme as anyone, and he doesn’t get credit for the leadership he gave to this franchise on the field. His swagger changed the culture of a franchise that had had 14 losing seasons before he and Brooks came along.

    To this day scouts are always looking for the “next warren Sapp” when they evaluate 3 techniques.

    They haven’t found one yet.

  41. bmoritz2003 says: Feb 2, 2013 5:21 PM

    I saw Sapp play plenty of times. He was good, but he is NOT a Hall of Famer. If it wasn’t for his mouth, he would already be forgotten. He’s not even close.

  42. jgilesband says: Feb 2, 2013 5:37 PM

    Having a sports writer determine who deserves a spot is so antiquated and frankly a tad odd. What proof do he have the Sapp, Brown, Haley, etc deserve to be in the Hall? What proof do we have that these WRITERS deserve to judge a player’s athletic achievements? Sapp is a perfect example of being punished for making it harder for writers to do their job (by being mean! poor dears having to suffer through such trauma), which should have nothing to do with the selection process.

    Favre will be (and deserves to be) a first ballot HOFer, but there is as much of a case for him being a “turd” as Sapp but because he boosted Peter King’s ego all that will be washed over. Also because QB is an easier position for a non-expert (sports writer) to judge and inflated passing numbers only count against WRs, not QBs.

  43. Shinnbone says: Feb 2, 2013 6:46 PM

    I certainly hope those two Bunnies had some security close by…

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