NFC South: Chidi Ahanotu

TAMPA, Fla. -- A battle of words erupted between two former Tampa Bay defensive linemen after one wrote a Facebook post saying the other had bullied teammates and team employees.

After hearing reports about bullying involving the Miami Dolphins, former Tampa Bay defensive end Chidi Ahanotu took to Facebook to reveal that he and other members of the Buccaneers were bullied by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

“I didn't mean it to be negative toward Warren, but I think, in light of what's going on in the NFL right now, people deserve to know the truth,'' Ahanotu said in an interview with ESPN.com Wednesday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeWarren Sapp and Chidi Ahanotu
AP Photo/Peter CosgroveWarren Sapp (99) and Chidi Ahanotu (72) were teammates in Tampa Bay from 1995 through 2000.
In the Facebook post, Ahanotu said at least four other players and an unspecified number of team employees were bullied by Sapp. In part, Ahanotu wrote:
Players and staff "had physical altercations of varying degrees with Sapp. Virtually [n]othing was off limits to Sapp's verbal attacks & belittling of his teammates & front office staff'."

Ahanotu played for the Bucs from 1993 through 2000. Sapp was with the Bucs from 1995 through 2003.

Sapp, who stopped by the Tampa Bay media room on Wednesday, fired back at Ahanotu after being told about the Facebook page.

“Check the source,'' Sapp said. “I've been in the locker room with Chidi for many years. If you know the nature of the beast, don't be surprised by what it does. He had plenty of time to say whatever he wanted to say about Sapp up until this point. Warren was just as hard on you as he was on himself. I think Derrick Brooks and anyone else that's been in that locker room will tell you. I've been called everything under the sun in this town. This is the first time I've ever heard that and why do you think that is?

“I think I helped him get paid. And then when he got his 10 sacks, didn't come to the offseason conditioning, yeah, I tortured his [butt] because we needed him here in the offseason. If I was going to be here every day, why wasn't he? He got his $30 million deal, I got my $36 million deal and we were out there in the same dirt. But he still says I'm his brother because he knows I was right to get on his [butt] about not being here.''

Ahanotu's comments come as Sapp gets ready to enter the team's Ring of Honor and having his number retired during Monday night's game against the Dolphins. Ahanotu also wrote that Sapp was able to get away with behavior similar to what Miami's Richie Incognito has been accused of because Sapp was an outstanding player.
“A legendary coach once said to us that if a guy is a jerk but he plays football great, then he's not a jerk to him,'' Ahanotu wrote. “Sapp's prowess on the field and national acclaim has been embraced by the Buc owners [the Glazer family], former head coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden and the local media regardless of full knowledge of Sapp's belligerence insulting behavior. In the end, a pass is given to players when they are superstars. Even passes to be included all the way into the [Pro Football] Hall Of Fame. If Richie Incognito was such a superstar, then the nation would never have heard about his bullying altercation.''

Despite being critical of Sapp's behavior, Ahanotu closed the Facebook post by saying he still feels warmly about Sapp.
“And in the end Warren Sapp is my brother regardless of his ways,'' Ahanotu wrote. “Seems fighting in the trenches alongside a man tooth and nail through guts, blood and glory for many, many years can give a man a pass too.''
TAMPA, Fla. -- A battle of words erupted between two former Tampa Bay defensive linemen after one wrote a Facebook post saying the other had bullied teammates and team employees.

After hearing reports about bullying involving the Miami Dolphins, former Tampa Bay defensive end Chidi Ahanotu took to Facebook to reveal that he and other members of the Buccaneers were bullied by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

“I didn't mean it to be negative toward Warren, but I think, in light of what's going on in the NFL right now, people deserve to know the truth,'' Ahanotu said in an interview with ESPN.com Wednesday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeWarren Sapp and Chidi Ahanotu
AP Photo/Peter CosgroveWarren Sapp (99) and Chidi Ahanotu (72) were teammates in Tampa Bay from 1995 through 2000.
In the Facebook post, Ahanotu said at least four other players and an unspecified number of team employees were bullied by Sapp. In part, Ahanotu wrote:
Players and staff "had physical altercations of varying degrees with Sapp. Virtually [n]othing was off limits to Sapp's verbal attacks & belittling of his teammates & front office staff'."

Ahanotu played for the Bucs from 1993 through 2000. Sapp was with the Bucs from 1995 through 2003.

Sapp, who stopped by the Tampa Bay media room on Wednesday, fired back at Ahanotu after being told about the Facebook page.

“Check the source,'' Sapp said. “I've been in the locker room with Chidi for many years. If you know the nature of the beast, don't be surprised by what it does. He had plenty of time to say whatever he wanted to say about Sapp up until this point. Warren was just as hard on you as he was on himself. I think Derrick Brooks and anyone else that's been in that locker room will tell you. I've been called everything under the sun in this town. This is the first time I've ever heard that and why do you think that is?

“I think I helped him get paid. And then when he got his 10 sacks, didn't come to the offseason conditioning, yeah, I tortured his [butt] because we needed him here in the offseason. If I was going to be here every day, why wasn't he? He got his $30 million deal, I got my $36 million deal and we were out there in the same dirt. But he still says I'm his brother because he knows I was right to get on his [butt] about not being here.''

Ahanotu's comments come as Sapp gets ready to enter the team's Ring of Honor and having his number retired during Monday night's game against the Dolphins. Ahanotu also wrote that Sapp was able to get away with behavior similar to what Miami's Richie Incognito has been accused of because Sapp was an outstanding player.
“A legendary coach once said to us that if a guy is a jerk but he plays football great, then he's not a jerk to him,'' Ahanotu wrote. “Sapp's prowess on the field and national acclaim has been embraced by the Buc owners [the Glazer family], former head coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden and the local media regardless of full knowledge of Sapp's belligerence insulting behavior. In the end, a pass is given to players when they are superstars. Even passes to be included all the way into the [Pro Football] Hall Of Fame. If Richie Incognito was such a superstar, then the nation would never have heard about his bullying altercation.''

Despite being critical of Sapp's behavior, Ahanotu closed the Facebook post by saying he still feels warmly about Sapp.
“And in the end Warren Sapp is my brother regardless of his ways,'' Ahanotu wrote. “Seems fighting in the trenches alongside a man tooth and nail through guts, blood and glory for many, many years can give a man a pass too.''

Around the NFC South

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
9:14
AM ET
ATLANTA – Time for a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said talks about a new contract have been tabled until after the season. Smart move. The Saints are down to crunch time and the team and Brees don’t need any distractions.

Atlanta linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who returned Thursday night after missing two games with a quadriceps injury, suffered a knee injury in the victory over Jacksonville. The severity of the injury isn’t known yet, but the Falcons don’t play again until Dec. 26.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith will undergo a stress test Friday at Emory Hospital. Smith was taken to a Charlotte hospital Sunday after experiencing chest pains. After Thursday night’s game, Smith said he’s fine and politely said he doesn’t want to discuss his health any further.

Carolina receiver Steve Smith said there’s no comparison between Cam Newton and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Smith said Newton is a more complete player. No argument here.

The Panthers play at Houston on Sunday. Reliant Stadium was the site of Carolina’s only Super Bowl, a loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The only current Panthers who were on that team are tackle Jordan Gross and Smith. Jake Delhomme was the quarterback of that team. Ironically, he now is with the Texans.

Former Tampa Bay defensive lineman Chidi Ahanotu wrote a guest column for PewterReport.com that’s very interesting. Not sure I agree with his opinion that the Bucs shouldn’t fire coach Raheem Morris. But Ahanotu is a smart guy and has spent a lot of time in locker rooms. His opinion is at least worth a look.

Gary Shelton has a column that asks a very valid question – if the Bucs fire Morris, does general manager Mark Dominik go as well? Dominik’s had his share of hits and misses and he certainly deserves blame for a season gone awry. But my best guess is Dominik stays. Some coaches and general managers are package deals. I think the Bucs provided a big hint that they don’t view Morris and Dominik that way after last season. They gave Dominik a four-year contract extension and simply picked up two option years on Morris’ contract.

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