Cities Journal

Jerry Rice Files: 15 Things You Didn’t Know


3. Feuding with Sapp

In 1997, Warren Sapp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackled Rice hard and caused him to tear his ACL. While all is fair in love and football, Rice was upset that Sapp never called the hospital to apologize or see how he was doing.

Many people were saying that it was a cheap shot that Sapp took on Rice, which made Rice sit out most of that season. The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament injury, is one of the most serious injuries that a football player can endure, and the recovery is a very difficult one.

This ligament is on the side of the knee and is not only one of the most important ligaments of the leg, but also one of the most fragile.

On the play, Sapp grabbed Rice’s face mask and dragged him to the ground as Rice was running after making a catch. Rice’s body was awkwardly twisted and his knee took the brunt of the damage in the tackle.

Rice believed that the nature of the tackle, with the illegal face mask move as well, warranted Sapp to call and apologize for the play. But Sapp never called, and this made Rice very angry.

When asked about the incident, Sapp had his version of the event, “I found out later that season that Jerry Rice was upset that I hadn’t called him at the hospital to apologize,” Sapp said. “Apologize? You don’t apologize for a clean hit. I had absolutely nothing to apologize for, but I was very sorry he was hurt.”

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