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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Warren Sapp Accused by Former Teammates of Being a Bully

How Does This Accusation of Bullying Relate to Miami Dolphins Linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito?

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COMMENTARY | Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp has been called a lot of things. It's time to add bully to the list. At least, that's what some former Buccaneers players are stating.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, former players Keyshawn Johnson and Chidi Ahanotu came forward voicing frustrations about the way Sapp treated them, and others on the Bucs, during his tenure in Tampa Bay.

"Richie Incognito tormenting and bullying of his teammate reminds me of what our beloved Warren Sapp did to his teammates and the staff," said Ahanotu.

"Tyoka Jackson, Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson, Marcus Jones and I {Anahotu} all confronted Sapp and had physical altercations and varying degrees with Sapp. Virtually nothing was off limits to Sapp's verbal attacks and belittling of his teammates and front office staff."

Ahanotu went on to add that the bullying increased until he stood up for himself and called Sapp out in the locker room. Once he showed backbone, Sapp didn't bother him again.

Sapp denied the rumors, claiming that Anahotu and others had ample time to bring this information to the public, but decided to wait until the defensive lineman was inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor. He didn't stop there, and even went so far as blasting Incognito on local radio, accusing him of being a 'dirtbag.'

The fact that multiple players have come forward addressing Sapp's antics leads me to believe that he and Incognito may not be so different. However, I question the validity of Sapp belittling front office staff. Is one player exempt from punishment if he plays at an All-Pro level on the field? Is winning so important that a bully is allowed free reign over his teammates and staff?

I understand players not wanting to create a scene and get coaches involved, but why wouldn't front office personnel contact upper management about Sapp's bullying? Was bullying in the locker room common, and if so, how many other untold stories are waiting to be shared?

This story won't affect Tampa Bay's play this season. Sapp and those accusing him are all retired. That is what makes the Incognito-Martin ordeal different. This information is coming out right now as it's happening, and it's affecting everyone connected to the situation.

This story emphasizes that there is -- and has been -- a serious problem with player bullying in the league for some time. It's disappointing that professional athletes -- role models in the community, by choice or not -- are engaging in acts of verbal and physical harassment for their own enjoyment.

If nothing else, this story stresses the importance of getting rid of acts of bullying in our schools. No one deserves to be treated differently because of their size, weight, social status, ethnicity, or athletic ability, or lack thereof. If bullies see that their acts of aggression are tolerated in professional sports, what's to stop them from becoming the next Warren Sapp or Richie Incognito?

James LoPresti lives in Tampa and has a journalism degree from the University of South Florida. He has eight years experience working in print media with the Tampa Tribune, and you can follow him on Twitter @JLoPresti3114.


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