- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
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.''