NFL

Warren Sapp: Hung out to Dry by NFL Network?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Formar NFL player Warren Sapp appears onstage at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's 24th Annual Sports Spectacular at the Century Plaza Hotel on June 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Brendan O'HareContributor IApril 10, 2012

Warren Sapp is having a bad couple of days. It all started when he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after owing more than $6.7 million to creditors and child support. Then, the Boston Globe reported Sunday that Sapp may be losing his job at the NFL Network due to his Jeremy Shockey comments and the fact that he hasn't appeared on the network for almost two weeks. And people seem to be super pumped about this.

Do a quick Google or Twitter search about all this, and try not to get swept up in the "good riddance" tone of all the articles and tweets. Sapp's sudden departure from the weird former-NFL-player-as-talking-head "stardom" he achieved has caused people to put on party hats and break out in song, and there is reason behind this.

At Sapp's core, he is an accused domestic-abuser, possible homophobe and race-baiter. I'm sure Sapp is fine with me calling him these things because unlike most of his claims, these came with a hyperlink and accredited sources. He has also fooled America into perceiving Shockey as a sympathetic being, which is potentially the greatest crime of all. Just kidding. Those three things listed above are much more damning.

Sapp also is not doing himself any favors when he lists the assets he's claiming in his bankruptcy. There are 240 pairs of Jordans, expensive watches, lion-skin rugs, a large painting of nude women and a boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali. These sound like the possessions of an excessive pseudo-king, a Gatsbyian dream gone horribly awry. He's lost both of his championship rings (one NFL, one NCAA), and his ex-wife is claiming Sapp owes more than $728,000 in child support.

Looking at all the information above, it's pretty apparent Sapp is just as bombastic and obnoxious with his spending as he is on television. Nothing about Sapp is all that likable, and yet I feel sorry for the man who once inhaled helium on live TV. There's a chance that ridiculously high alimony payment is due to his ex-wife not realizing he no longer makes the salary of an NFL player, and maybe he's less of a piece of crap as a father than he is as an analyst.

The story of bankrupt athletes always depresses me. The sagas of Allen Iverson, Lenny Dykstra and now Sapp are sad tales of gluttony, oblivion and a subsequent harsh reality. As a USA Today article said, professional athletes are constantly going bankrupt due to these three reasons:

"One, they put too much money in private equity investments. Two, they put too much money in real estate. And three, they spend too much," Ed Butowsky, managing partner of Chapwood Capital Investment Management in Dallas, said.

These athletes are taken advantage of by crappy financial advisors and the fact that no one will ever say "no" or "maybe you shouldn't buy another pair of Jordans." Seventy-eight percent of former NFL players are bankrupt after being retired for two years. It's a cycle the NFL seems to be doing nothing to prevent, and the rookie symposiums the NFL trumpets around obviously are not getting the job done. 

Sapp is no different, and to me, that makes this a less cheerful story than some a parading it to be. He, like so many, is the product of a broken system. Sure, he has his salary from the shows where he goes on and drools for a few hours. Then he goes home.

The fact of the mater is that he still is losing everything—his job, his family, his money. I'm sure Sapp doesn't believe he is the human embodiment of filth as so many are making him out to be, and like everyone, he's probably just someone who thinks they are doing the right things. That doesn't mean he can't be called out on his BS, but by crapping on Sapp the real problem is being ignored: that athletes, specifically those in the NFL, can continually fall in this cycle of losing everything following having everything, and no one blinks.

If Sapp does indeed lose his job at the NFL Network, the cycle will be complete. The same entity that gave him his opulence has spit him out with nothing to show for it. 

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