In the world of literature, there are writers who can turn a phrase. There are those who can paint a scene. There are those who can develop characters so real that you can see their faces.
Then there is Warren Sapp, author.
On third and long, I am relatively sure that he could kick William Faulkner's butt.
Not only that, I am also fairly certain that if you put Sapp Attack, his upcoming book, on your shelf, it will instantly frighten the other books that are there.
And here he comes again. Sapp, the most colorful, most discussed athlete in Tampa Bay history, is on another one of those brutal, relentless rushes again. One more time, he is loud, and he is profane, and he is stepping on a different set of toes every time you turn a page. You may like it, you may hate it, and you may stay up late laughing about it.
In other words, yeah, it's full of Sapp.
For 314 pages, the former defensive tackle rambles through his career in the same familiar bluntness of his better news conferences. To sum up, he loved Tony Dungy, he liked Jon Gruden and he hated Sam Wyche. He admired Derrick Brooks, he didn't care for Keyshawn Johnson and he thought Monte Kiffin was an overrated self-promoter. Also, he knows a lot of words your children should not read.
Let's be honest: They aren't likely to teach Sapp Attack in schools. If you are a great fan of prose and allegory, this isn't a work your book club will be interested in. Literature, it is not.
On the other hand, it's fun. Besides, let's face it: After his recent bankruptcy, Sapp could use the money.
A sampling from the Book of Sapp:On coming to the Bucs:
"Everything about the organization was bad; bad coaching staff, bad practice facility, bad bright-orange team colors, even a bad team logo. Bucco Bruce was the logo. The NFL had lions and giants, cowboys and panthers. We had the sappy pirate. C'mon, how intimidating is that, Bucco Bruce? He was this sad-looking pirate who actually had his earring in the wrong ear. What kind of pirate has an earring in his wrong ear? He was supposed to be sneering but actually looked like he was winking."
On Wyche, his first head coach:
"Sam Wyche and I never did arrive on the same planet. … Wyche thought you motivated people by making snide comments, by belittling people. … So it wasn't a surprise his coaching staff was disloyal. We spent the whole season watching defensive coordinator Rusty Tillman trying to sabotage Wyche so he could get the head coaching job."On the way his teammates treated him as a rookie:
"Once a week, right into the season, I got my a - - taped to the uprights. One time, they taped (Brad) Culpepper and me back-to-back in the middle of the floor."
And on it goes. For those who have been around Sapp during one of his better news conferences, the tone is familiar. No matter what else you think of him, Sapp has always been a gifted storyteller, ribald and funny.
That said, the book does feel as if it was written a little too soon. It would have been nice to have read more about Sapp's bankruptcy problems, for instance. I would have liked to have read a bit more about his new TV show, or his thoughts about his potential Hall of Fame induction, or some of his thoughts about the current state of the Bucs, or how long ago the cover photo was taken before he says he lost his Super Bowl ring.
All in all, however, it's a nice little memory jog. During the best days in the history of the franchise, Sapp was one of the best players.On the Bucs coaches he played for:
''I always said that Tony Dungy put the damn cake in the oven, and then Jon Gruden came in and put the icing on it. Of course, Sam Wyche couldn't even get the mix out of the box."On Kiffin, the former defensive coordinator:
"I always believed Kiffin (blitzed) so much because he wanted the glory; it made him feel like a great defensive coordinator."On how some defensive linemen illegally coated their jerseys with Vaseline or silicone so the offensive linemen couldn't hold them:
"Now that Whitey (his nickname for Culpepper) also is retired, I'll confess for him that he was one of the people who did that. He practically bathed in silicone before a game. Trust me, if he had ever tried to hug his wife before a game, she would have slipped right out of his arms and gone straight up in the air."
And on and on. Sapp talks about why he didn't go to Florida (his mother got a bad feeling there) or FSU (Sapp says Bobby Bowden referred to one of his players as a fat a - -, and Sapp wondered if he would say the same about him to another recruit in two years). He talks about former teammate Eric Curry, who once went 17 yards deep on a pass rush, far past the quarterback. He talks about what former Packers coach Mike Sherman said to him after he hit tackle Chad Clifton (it's unprintable).
Mostly, he talks about the Bucs, the teammates he admired and the teammates he did not.On Johnson, the receiver:
"Among the biggest problems we had on that 2003 team was Keyshawn Johnson. … It wasn't a big secret Keyshawn didn't fit into our locker room: he came to us from a different football culture, and he never could make the adjustment. Everything was about him."
On defensive end Chidi Ahanotu: "We played alongside each other, but we didn't get along. … Chidi was a good player; he was known for putting pressure on quarterbacks but not getting sacks. He owned a nice jazz bar named Sacks. … I stood up and said, 'I got one thing to add.' … They changed the name of the restaurant from Sacks to Pressures."On quarterback Trent Dilfer:
"Dilfer … basically was an interception waiting to happen. There were times we practically pleaded with him, 'We know you're not going to score a touchdown, but please, just don't turn it over.' "
On it rolls, uncensored and unapologetic, from the bounties at Miami to the turnaround in Tampa Bay to the final days in Oakland. It is as raw, as boisterous, as loud as Sapp himself. As books go, it kind of snarls.
If you watched Sapp play, what else would you expect?