Oh Warren Sapp, when will you ever stop amusing us with your inflammatory remarks? I always enjoy listening to Sapp, if only because he says exactly what he means. Like his remarks on Michael Strahan to the Tampa Tribune.
"(Rice) didn't rush the worst lineman,'' said Sapp, who beat out Strahan for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013. "You know the right tackle is the worst of the five. Strahan played right end his first four years. When they were putting the label on him as a bust, they put 'B-U-S . OK, let's transition him on the other side and see if he can play in his fourth year.'
So that'd be "B-U-S-Hall of Fame", then? Because that's almost certainly where Michael Strahan is going down the line. He's ranked fifth in career sacks in recorded NFL history. The NFL didn't start tracking sacks until 1982 so that may not be as impressive as it sounds, but most other players in the top 10 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame already. The excepts are Kevin Greene, Leslie O'Neal and Jason Taylor -- and the latter isn't eligible yet.
There's a good lesson in there, too. Strahan never managed more than 7.5 sacks through his first four NFL seasons, before putting together back-to-back 14+ sack seasons. He played right end for his first two seasons, and left end for his second two seasons -- when he posted 7.5 and 5 sacks. Hardly devastating numbers. Sometimes, players just need time to develop, which is what happened with Strahan. A slow start to a career doesn't make one a bad player.
Plus, there's that whole sack record thing and leading the NFL in sacks twice in his career. That's pretty good, right?
Sapp's point on Rice is interesting, though. Will Simeon Rice get into the Hall of Fame? That seems unlikely, but you can make the case that he was better than Strahan. He has 122 career sacks in 12 seasons, while Strahan has 141.5 sacks in 15 seasons. Rice was a devastating pass rusher when he played, more so than Strahan, who had six seasons with double digit sacks.
Rice had a whopping eight seasons with double digit sacks, and failed to reach that mark just four teams in his career. Two of those years came with the abysmal Arizona Cardinals, while the other two were the final two seasons of his career when he played just 8 injury-limited games in each year.
You could argue that Rice is the player who put the Bucs over the top. He likely should have been the MVP of the Super Bowl, keying a devastating Bucs pass rush. He was unstoppable in that game, like he was throughout most of his career. Even when Sapp left and he became the sole competent pass rusher on the team he still managed two seasons of 12+ sacks.
Does Rice deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? I'm not sure. But I'm fairly certain that he was a better pure pass rusher than Michael Strahan, although Strahan may have been a better overall defensive end. Given the fact that Strahan's talked about as a potential Hall of Famer, maybe we should start looking at Rice's career in a similar light.