I'm not sure Warren Sapp knows what a Hall of Fame résumé actually looks like.
One of the more absurd stories to come out during Super Bowl week involves Sapp and former New York Giants pass rusher Michael Strahan. Sapp, enshrined in Canton last year, had the following to say earlier this week about Strahan, who is up for election into the Hall of Fame: “I don't think his résumé stacks up when you put Tony Dungy, Walter Jones, Marvin Harrison and Derrick Brooks up. Those are four first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Four straight Pro Bowls and a mythical sack record. When you really measure it up, he comes up short, except you all are giving it to him.”
That's not all. “You all don’t take that same critical eye as when you’re looking at somebody else,” Sapp said. “'Oh, it’s Michael. Awww, he’s our guy. He’s on TV with Kelly (Ripa)' and 'Oh, he’s such a good guy!’ I thought you got into the Hall because your résumé stacked up with the echoes of the game. Not just the good. The great.”
Sapp, and others in and around the league, have been longtime critics of Strahan's single-season sack record. Strahan accumulated 22.5 sacks during the 2001 season, the last of which occurred when then Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre appeared to go down and sacrifice himself as a sack victim.
Strahan offered this response to Sapp on Tuesday: “I am. I'm all hype. I lasted 15 years, all hype. I had 141.5 career sacks, all hype. I was always a starter. I played left end, and that made me get sacks. My coaches kept putting me in the game because they felt it gave us the best chance to win, and that was all hype.”
The Pro Football Reference website has broken down all that Strahan achieved during his NFL career. He was named to seven Pro Bowls. Strahan was a first-team All-Pro on four occasions. He twice led the NFL in sacks (2001 and 2003).
Strahan finished his career with a total, disputable or not, of 141.5 sacks. Only four players in the history of the NFL have more as of the conclusion the 2013 season. Sapp, for those curious, had 96.5 career sacks. Strahan also happened to be the defensive leader on the Giants team that defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, his final game.
I am a big fan of the so-called “eye test” regarding a player's Hall of Fame credentials. For example, no questions exist about whether or not the likes of Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, or Mario Lemieux deserve to be Hall of Famers. It's something that is just accepted by any and all knowledgeable fans and analysts.
Sapp absolutely passes that test for my money. Strahan also does, perhaps even more so than does Sapp.
Strahan was not merely, in his prime, a dominant force who was also arguably the best defensive lineman in the league at that time. The longevity of his career is worthy of respect. He entered the league in 1993, and he had 11.5 sacks in 2005 and 9.0 sacks two years later in his last NFL season.
Sapp is entitled to his opinion, and he, an all-time great, has the right to speak his mind on such a subject. That said, his comments about Strahan seem far more personal than critical analysis about a defensive star who is unquestionably going to have his day in Canton, likely as soon as later on this year. Sapp doesn't have a Hall of Fame vote, and his public opinion of Strahan shows that he doesn't deserve one.
This situation serves as a reminder that being a tremendous player doesn't make one the smartest man in the room when speaking about that particular sport.