Before anything, this is all Warren Sapp’s fault. To take a page from ESPN’s Rick Reilly, if Sapp hadn’t opened this mouth, this article would not exist, but nevertheless…
Sapp told the Tampa Bay Tribune that his former Tampa Bay Buccaneer teammate, Simeon Rice, was better than New York Giants legend Michael Strahan. Sapp’s evidence to back up his conjecture was that Strahan was lined up on the weak side which made it easier for Strahan to have success, unlike Rice who was lined up against left tackles, the strongest tackles on the offensive line.
Rice was an excellent pass rusher without a doubt. He recorded 122 sacks in his 12-year NFL career, while recording double digit sacks in eight of those twelve seasons. Rice was the second fastest player to join the 100 sacks club behind legend Reggie White. He also played a major role in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl season in 2002, narrowly missing the Super Bowl MVP honors to teammate Dexter Jackson. It is no question he has hall of fame caliber numbers, but the counterexample to Sapp’s conjecture is Rice is not comparable to Strahan.
It is without question that Strahan was a better defensive end the Rice and the numbers prove it: 854 tackles, which is almost twice the number of tackles Rice amounted in his career. 141 sacks, which placed Strahan fifth all-time including the 2001 season where Strahan broke the record for most sacks in a season with 22.5. Both have a Super Bowl championship, but Rice didn’t attain his ring against an undefeated Tom Brady like Strahan did. So Sapp, if Strahan had it a little easier, then why do his numbers immensely eclipse Rice? This isn’t about Strahan and Rice, it’s about Sapp trying to downplay all of Strahan’s success.
It’s clear Sapp doesn’t like Strahan. It all began when Strahan broke the record for most sacks in a single season given that the record-breaking sack appeared to be given to him as Brett Farve fell to the ground as Strahan sacked him. Watch the video and then come back to the article.
Now, let’s review. Imagine if the sportscasters said nothing about Farve and Strahan being buddies or that the play looked design. Think back to what quarterbacks are told to do when they know they are about to be sacked. See, this rivalry between Sapp and Strahan didn’t start because Strahan broke the record, but because of two ordinary people’s perspective on a play that was fundamental, not scripted. Their opinion sparked the controversy, which sparked Sapp’s comments about Strahan not earning the record, which now brings us to June 27th, 2013 where we are still talking about Sapp’s dislike for Strahan twelve years later.
What’s funny about this whole Sapp vs. Strahan debacle is that Sapp was elected into the Hall of Fame before Strahan. What does putting a former teammates of his over his rival do for him, a hall of famer? Nothing, except make Sapp look like, to quote former Giants running back Tiki Barber, “an idiot.”
At the end of the day, this isn’t about Rice, it’s about Sapp continuing to try to cement himself to be better than Strahan when all Strahan does is allow his play, his accolades, and his image speak for itself instead of his mouth. Strahan earned his success and will earn the vote into the Hall of Fame.
Because right now, by talking about Strahan, Sapp is only validating just how good Strahan really was.