Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Friday, January 11, 2013
Warren Sapp a step closer to HOF

By Pat Yasinskas

So far, it looks like the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters are focusing solely on the on-field accomplishments of former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

That’s the way it should be. When it comes to Hall of Fame inclusion, what a player did on the field is the only thing that’s supposed to matter.

Sapp was the best defensive tackle of his generation, and that alone should be enough to get him elected on the first ballot. But I’ve worried that some voters might hold Sapp’s personality against him. In his playing days, Sapp could be vicious, and he didn’t make a lot of friends in the media. There also are tons of stories floating around Tampa, Fla., about how Sapp often was rude to fans.

That’s unfortunate, but none of that is supposed to matter when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Apparently, voters are putting Sapp’s personality aside.

The Hall of Fame announced Friday that Sapp is one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Class of 2013. Former Carolina linebacker Kevin Greene also made the cut. Former Atlanta and New Orleans kicker Morten Andersen didn’t make the lists of finalists. Former Tampa Bay safety John Lynch also was left off the list.

I think Lynch and Andersen eventually will make the Hall of Fame. But it’s difficult to get a kicker in the Hall of Fame, and safety is another position that isn’t all that well represented. It’s going to take some time, but Lynch and Andersen might get their shot in a year when the class isn’t so strong.

We’ll find out if Sapp gets in when the final voting takes place the day before the Super Bowl.