Warren Sapp explains why he objected to Timmy Jernigan number tribute
Most retired players are likely flattered when the next generation wants to wear their number in tribute, but Warren Sapp is not one of them – at least not when it comes to Timmy Jernigan.
Jernigan, a Ravens defensive tackle, changed his number to 99, saying it was in honor of Sapp. Sapp fired back with a tweet that made it quite clear that he wasn’t into the idea. Now he’s explained why.
Sapp said he knew Jernigan before the young defensive tackle was even drafted, according to Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk, but the bad blood starter when Jernigan never called him back after Sapp offered to be something of a mentor to him.
Sapp also seemed to accuse Jernigan of “making it personal” and inviting unfair comparisons between the two.
“I’m not just trying to hold up my standard,” Sapp said. “I’m only the fifth defensive tackle first ballot Hall of Famer in NFL history — the ones before me were Bob Lilly, Merlin Olson, Mean Joe Greene and Randy White. I am in a company of five, so when you talk about me, you better bring the other four with me because that is the standard that I held myself to.
“Joe Cullen, the old D-line coach that was down in Tampa, is in Baltimore now, and I have already had four conversations with him about coming up to Baltimore. So how am I not going to have a conversation with the guy that wants to put a number on his back? That’s not my number. He [Jernigan] put my name in it [the story]. And to put my name in it, makes it personal to me.
“Go out and make a name for yourself for you. Don’t go and use a first ballot defensive tackle that you will now be judged against. Are you kidding me? Who signed up for that?”
This doesn’t make all that much sense. Sapp doesn’t own the number 99, and Jernigan clearly didn’t mean anything bad by wanting to wear it. He would be excused if he’s having second thoughts about exactly how much he respects Sapp. He wouldn’t be the only one in the NFL with a negative opinion of the Hall of Famer.