Warren Sapp and Jon Gruden spent just three years in the same locker room in Tampa together. But the championship-winning bond those three NFL seasons created remains unbreakable, even in the midst of a tough stretch for the disgraced head coach.
Gruden faced a forced resignation from the Las Vegas Raiders last October amid a scandal involving leaked emails that included racial epithets. However, in his time away from the game, the former Super Bowl champion coach has received plenty of positive character accounts, perhaps none as strong as the NFL Hall of Fame defensive lineman’s exposition on an episode of VladTV.
Warren Sapp – who played an integral role in the first Super Bowl victory in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history in 2002 – hastily defended his former coach’s character, stating, “You’re not going to call my head coach a racist.”
The intimidating, beastly lineman jokingly asserted, “There’s no way a fire-breathing racist would be in front of me or on my speed dial.” In the three-minute clip of the interview posted on YouTube, Sapp also questioned the motive and context of the smoking-gun emails, asking “Where’s the chain of replies?”
It’s a legitimate question to ask – no doubt. While the hundreds of thousands of emails turned into an investigation into the workplace environment of the Washington Commanders, only six leaked messages lead to the resignation of a coach never affiliated with the investigated organization.
Sapp Not Alone in Defense of Gruden
Owner of the Las Vegas Raiders Mark Davis never renounced his friendship with Jon Gruden following the coach’s resignation. Instead, he still directs questions about the entire incident toward the league. Davis played a fundamental role in bringing the coach out of retirement, out of ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth, and back into coaching the team that gave him his first head coaching gig.
Sapp’s recent characterization of his relationship with Gruden aligns with the actions of Davis – not turning on the coach, even when his resignation left the franchise in a tough spot.
Meanwhile, Gruden – who has since sued the NFL for tortious interference – is allowing the process to play out, appreciative of the support of former players and friends around the league.