Sapp Should Be A First-Ballot HOFer
September 28, 2012 at 10:27am by Scott • 4 Comments »
The first round of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2013 induction came out yesterday and has some very notable first-time names on it:
DT Sam Adams
G Larry Allen
K Morten Andersen
RB Priest Holmes
S John Lynch
WR Keenan McCardell
QB Steve McNair
C Tom Nalen
T Jonathan Ogden
DT Warren Sapp
DE Michael Strahan
DT Ted Washington
DT Bryant Young
The Hall can induct no more than seven players per season and there’s a large backlog of worthy players waiting to get in, so first-year nominees have to really be something special. And although there are several players on that list who should eventually get in (sorry, Keenan, you’re not one of them), there are two who absolutely have to go in right away. And one of them is our very own Warren Sapp.
I’ve been hard on Sapp for the last year or so, but none of that had anything to do with the way he played football. Sapp was the gear that made the entire Tampa 2 defense go. It requires a fast, strong and smart defensive tackle getting quick penetration up the middle, and Sapp was the prototype. With a lesser DT in that position, the whole scheme falls apart. Go back and watch old games of Sapp in his prime. It’s a thing of beauty. A nice, clean pocket never forms for the quarterback; it’s always this mess of bodies jabbing and holding and trying desperately to get back in position. You know those insurance commercials about mayhem? That was Sapp. Mayhem embodied. Just like Lawrence Taylor in the 1980s, coaches had to come up with new schemes to combat Sapp. He changed the way the game is played. He may very well be the best defensive tackle ever. I’m sure you’d get a couple arguments from some Cowboy fans over Bob Lilly or Randy White and maybe there’s an argument to be made for John Randle or Mean Joe Greene, but Sapp is, at the very least, a major player in that conversation. And he deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he doesn’t go in this time, it would only be because he made enemies in the press and they’re making him wait out of spite. And that would be bullshit.
The other guy on that list who deserves to go in his first year is Larry Allen. And there is a really, really strong case to be made for Allen being the best guard in NFL history. I can’t imagine him not getting a unanimous pass to the Class of 2013.
If the Hall puts more than two first-ballot guys in (and it probably shouldn’t with the backlog they have), you’d have to say either Strahan or Ogden makes the cut. And I think there’s a spot for Lynch in Canton at some point, but he’s going to have to wait a while. He may even go in after Derrick Brooks, who should also be a first-ballot guy.