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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sapp's personality loved the stage

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Published:   |   Updated: August 1, 2013 at 03:34 PM

Pepin-Rood Stadium on the campus of the University of Tampa wasn't the largest stage Warren Sapp ever performed on, but to hear former Bucs coach Tony Dungy tell it, that's where Sapp often performed the best.

The site of Bucs training camp during Dungy's years as head coach, Pepin-Rood filled to the rafters for the one night practice the team held each year. And Sapp always set out to entertain the crowd.

"He used to love that first night practice," Dungy said. "For him, that was showtime. And for me, that was probably where you saw the best true display of his athleticism."

Especially when he ran the bag drill, in which linemen maneuver through a maze of upright bags similar to punching bags in boxing.

"The way you have to torque your body and the different movements you have to make, he could do that as well as anybody," Dungy said. "He was something to watch there. The speed, the quickness, the hand and foot movement at the same time that he displayed. And all at 300 pounds. Defensive backs couldn't go through those bags as well as he did."

The bunny hop dance

Sapp was in the spotlight.

A play in which he lined up as a pass-catching tight had been called with the Bucs facing first-and-goal from the Atlanta Falcons 6-yard line in September 2003. Suddenly, Sapp was under pressure to perform.

Knowing that play was part of the Bucs' attack, Sapp's teammates dared him all week to celebrate any would-be touchdown catch by doing the little bunny hop dance singer Beyonce does in her "Crazy in Love" video. Few, however, thought he would do it.

"They were all like, 'You won't do that in Atlanta,' " Sapp said. "But I killed it.''

He did indeed. After catching Brad Johnson's 6-yard touchdown pass in the end zone for a 17-3 lead in an eventual 31-10 victory, Sapp began hopping up and down with both feet together while holding the ball close to his chest.

It wasn't the last time he shined in a spotlight dance.

'Dancing With the Stars'

In 2008, a year after he retired as an NFL player, Sapp was chosen as a contestant for Season 7 of television's "Dancing With The Stars." Paired with dance pro Kym Johnson, Sapp dazzled the judges and fans with his surprising agility, quick feet and showmanship.

"That's the only time I've watched that show," said Dennis Erickson, Sapp's head coach at the University of Miami. "My wife, she went crazy. And my two sons and all my relatives, particularly the women, they would not miss it when he was on there."

And Sapp was on for the entire season.

From the 13 celebrities who began the competition, Sapp made it all the way to the contest finale before finishing as the runner-up to model Brooke Burke.

Of the 14 dances performed during the competition, Sapp received the highest scores awarded for his renditions of the Tango, the Paso Doble and the Hustle. He also scored 28 out of a possible 30 for his freestyle dance in the finals, where Burke received a perfect 30.

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