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Thursday, Oct 02, 2014
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gruden: Sapp's bravado what Bucs needed


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Warren Sapp's style ignited the franchise. Relentless and disruptive, he made his biggest plays in the biggest moments. A world champion wrecking machine that belongs in the rafters.

I loved coaching him. It was an honor, a heck of an honor.

He played his butt off every day in practice and especially on Sundays.

I thought I knew a lot about him when I arrived in Tampa. I knew he could ruin a game plan all by himself, but what I found out was how smart he was.

He also could play any position on the football field - in any era. We made him an eligible tight end at Philadelphia in the NFC championship game and Mike Alstott walked in behind him for a score. He caught touchdown passes and was a lot of fun to be around.

To be brutally honest, he could hurt your feelings at times, but he set the tone for us as a football team and gave us some bravado that we needed.

He was so smart, you had to change your line calls by the second day of training camp because he had already figured out the signals.

The best compliment I can give him is that as a three-technique, there are certain plays you can call that will work against most guys at that position. You can run a short trap or bring the tight end in short motion for a block down on him, but you could never get Warren Sapp twice on the same thing. Can't happen.

As a teammate, he was named a captain in a runaway vote.

Now, not everyone saw eye-to-eye with Warren on everything. He wasn't afraid to call you out if you weren't part of the program. He was a lightning rod for much of his career.

But I can't say enough about what a thrill it was to coach the guy. No disrespect to anyone, but he's the favorite player I've ever coached.

As he enters the Hall of Fame, I'm really happy for him because he richly deserves this day.

Jon Gruden coached the Buccaneers for seven seasons, from 2002-08, leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory in his first season. He is an NFL analyst for ESPN, working in the "Monday Night Football" booth.

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