Pack coach challengesSapp block

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. -- Green Bay coach Mike Sherman angrily confronted Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp after the Packers' 21-7 loss to the Buccaneers Sunday, complaining that the All-Pro defensive tackle knocked one of his players out of the game with a cheap shot.

Sapp denied the accusation and said he was stunned Sherman came up to him and initiated an obscenity-laced exchange after the player finished a television interview on the field.

''He cursed at me. He said something to set me off,'' Sapp said, declining to say what the Packers coach said.

When Sapp responded to the coach, a member of the Bucs public relations staff intervened and held the player away from Sherman, who was restrained by a Packers assistant coach.

Sherman was upset about a block Sapp made on Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton during Brian Kelly's return of a third-quarter interception that set up Tampa Bay's go-ahead touchdown. Clifton was pursuing Kelly, but was not close to him.

Sapp appeared to hit Clifton in the front of the right shoulder. The player injured his right hip and was taken to the locker room on a cart.

Some of Clifton's teammates, including Brett Favre, said they'd have to see the film before commenting on whether the hit was legal. Sherman thought it was questionable and felt Sapp made it worse by celebrating.

''I just don't think there's any place in the game for that,'' Sherman said. ''Maybe I overreacted to the hit. But what I saw looked kind of cheap. But who knows?''

Sapp, who was not penalized on the play, said he was just playing football.

''I've got two or three (blockers) on me. We get a pick, Brian Kelly is running all over the field. I see a guy going at my man, I put a lick on him. What's the problem?'' Sapp said. ''I didn't hit him below the waist, there's no flag on the play. Is this not a contact sport?''

It was the second straight week that a player and opposing coach were involved in a heated exchange. Miami cornerback Sam Madison had words with Baltimore's Brian Billick during the Dolphins' victory over the Ravens last week.

''Nine referees on the field didn't find anything wrong with it, and I'm sure they're looking at 99 (Sapp's number),'' Sapp said. ''I don't care if they review it. It's nothing but the man's running after the ball and I put a lick on him.''

Kelly's 31-yard return to the Packers 18 set up Brad Johnson's 4-yard touchdown pass to Joe Jurevicius. A 2-point conversion made it 14-7.

Favre, who was intercepted four times, spoke with Sapp after the game but not about the block on Clifton.

''It's hard for me to comment because I didn't see the hit. I know the result. Until I see it, I have no comment on it,'' Favre said.

I'm sure Mike, as emotional as he is and this team is right now, has reasons for (confronting Sapp).''

Sapp said he didn't stand over the Packers player, but rather walked away before being met by Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks. Sherman, however, felt Sapp celebrated Clifton being down on the ground.

''Chad was taken to a hospital. Obviously, when a player comes off on the cart it's a lot of concern there. He's going to stay overnight at the hospital and we'll further evaluate that. At this time, I know he has a severely sprained hip,'' Sherman said.

''But the after reaction. When a guy is numb on the ground, you're responsible, and you're happy about it, it bothers me a little bit. Warren's a great player. I just said I didn't appreciate that type of play.''

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