Opinion: Warren Sapp’s sour grapes of Richardson par for the course

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Warren Sapp seems to be taking a scorched earth policy to Super Bowl week. After publicly panning Michael Strahan, Sapp turned his scorn to another New York football player … Jets rookie Sheldon Richardson.

Per the NY Daily News:

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins“As soon as that kid gets off the ‘I think I was better and should have been drafted in a different position,’ maybe he’ll see his future,” Sapp told the Daily News. “Let’s not anoint this kid the next best thing since sliced bread yet.”

Sapp may not agree with Richardson’s tack, but the perceived draft-day snub (the Jets took him with the No. 13 pick) motivated the rookie.

“If something drives you, it drives you from inside, right?” Sapp said. “He’s externally saying it. The draft is not going to be re-drafted. So as soon as he wakes up from this nightmare that’s haunting him…. that’s the whole point when we talk about football players not carrying baggage. One play at a time. Let that go. He hasn’t let go of the draft. It was Week 15 and he was still talking about it. I was like, ‘Really?’”

Sapp is right about anointing anyone too soon. Even so, the now bankrupt Sapp himself has admitted that his own draft fall “scarred him for life” … but hey that’s not relevant because that doesn’t allow Sapp the cognitive (I use that term loosely with Sapp) dissonance to discount the young Richardson’s play — specifically his pass rush skills.

“What does he do well?” Sapp asked about Richardson.

Stuffing the run, he was told.

“Yeah. A run stuffer in a pass-first league,” Sapp mocked.

Sapp was an undoubted difference maker in the NFL, but 1995 was Warren Sapp’s first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he totaled three sacks, one forced fumble and an interception to go with 27 total tackles in sixteen games.

Eighteen years later, Richardson actually had had half a sack more than Sapp with 3.5 to go along with a forced fumble and 77 total tackles. Forgive me, but for as great a player as Sapp was over his career, Sapp doesn’t sound like someone in a position to slag a rookie based on their level overall impact.

The problem of course is Sapp knows better. While Sapp was allowed to shade the guard, pin his ears back and one-gap virtually every play for most of his career in the Tampa-2, the same can’t be said for Richardson.

The foundation of the Rex Ryan defense has and always will be stopping the run to set up long down and distances to get off the field; for Sheldon Richardson that entails both one and two-gapping at the line depending on the situation. Despite all these things, Richardson was still more productive as a rookie. QB pressures or double teams that don’t show up on the stat sheet (but do in the film room) to free up others are more as valuable than vanity stats like sacks. The Jets have always stressed third down percentages well before they fret over their sack totals.

Hell, Muhammad Wilkerson’s play against the pass was suspect as a rookie, how has that turned out? Behind JJ Watt, Wilkerson is widely regarded as the most complete 3-4 defensive end in the league. No one should be anointing Richardson yet, but they shouldn’t be discounting what improvements he can make in coming years either.

Sapp is nothing more than sour grapes.

Wilkerson, Coples, Harrison and Richardson are shaping up to be the engine for this defense over the next five years. We sure hope that there will come a time when the Hall will acknowledge some from that group, but to burn the rookie is childish.

Warren Sapp can put on a suit, can go to work for the likes of NFL Network but as his interactions this week are proving, he’s still just the pig in lipstick he’s always been.

We’re sure that there will be a rush now to shove a microphone in Sheldon Richardson’s face. Our hope is that, unlike Sapp, Richardson is mature enough to let the matter go.[/sny-editorial]




19 comments
SackDance99
SackDance99

Great retort BB, especially about Sapp's and Boss Hogg's different roles on their respective defenses.  Also, QBs didn't run the read option in Sapp's day, so it was a little easier to get to the QB when the QB was standing back in the pocket like a statue waiting for a WR to pop open in a zone when you're 1-gapping.

kniff
kniff

You know that Sheldon is only 23 yrs. old... he has already proven that he has the work ethic, and the tangible results to be held in the highest regard by any measure of NFL standards...by fans and pros alike.


Compound that with his admirable ability to handle the NY media by just honestly being himself, and not sounding like he spent 100 hours with a Public Relations Coach, hammering politically correct dullspeak into his head, and you can only come up with one conclusion;


That Warren Sapp ought to just STFU.

privatejet
privatejet

Well, the man has a point. I'm sick of hearing about how he was snubbed; first at the draft and then at the pro-bowl selection.

a57se
a57se

Didn't Sapp once compare the NFL to slavery?

Pat d
Pat d

Not letting go of the draft didn't hurt Brady

jaym
jaym

The worst thing they did for Sapp was to elect that big mouth to the Hall of Fame now he thinks his crap don't smell.

Bubby Brister
Bubby Brister

Isn't this the guy that just crowed in Newsday about how the Jets took Kyle Brady over him in the draft...and he's telling Sheldon to "move on from the draft"?

__fense
__fense

These are my favorite types of articles. Sapp knows that bashing NY teams is an easy way to get your name in the paper, and so he's doing it for the publicity. I love it when the Jets blog calls out idiots for being idiots.

Anthony Lamberti
Anthony Lamberti

This man is getting out of hand now first it was Strahan now Richardson i think he needs to leave well enough alone as Brain pointed out Richardson stats was better not by much but the INT can be wiped out with the fact of 2 rushing touchdowns if you ask me. Let the kid be and he is aloud to have a chip on his shoulder Sapp u did right but lets get this right it was ok for u i guess leave the kid be i am not saying Boss Hog is better then Sapp by anyway Sapp is a Hall of Famer for a reason but this man just needs to stop before NFL Network gets sick of him and he is out of a job again then he is totally screwed...

a57se
a57se

"Cognitive Dissonance", NICE!

specialk
specialk

If you ever wondered why did a guy as talented as Warren Sapp for so far in the draft. Well the last few days is part of the reason among other things as well.  

juunit
juunit

@__fense 

What does he gain though? Everyone is just calling him an idiot. It's not like this kind of stuff will get him any endorsements.

I think it's just who he is. 

harold
harold

Actually his stats where much better.  He had almost 3x as many tackles.  That is a much better season.  It is not even close.

D
D

@juunit@__fense he gains validation as being a post nfl loser, IMO.  

Richardson is doing more things right than wrong.    Richardson has all the tools and the attitude to be all time GREAT at his position.    Haters gonna Hate and Ballers are gonna Ball

__fense
__fense

@juunit @__fense Skip Bayless isn't too concerned with people thinking he's an idiot. I'm not saying that it's a good plan on his part (I think he's an idiot, after all), but why else would he be doing it?

Anthony Lamberti
Anthony Lamberti

@harold sorry at work boss has astick up his butt so he is riding my butt so i was not able to add more that was going to be added..




juunit
juunit

@__fense@juunit 

Well, I think it's Bayless' thing. It's what got him to where he is, so he's unlikely to stop doing it since it's his meal ticket.