Sherman vs. Sapp - the real story

Mike Sherman is a patient man. But when he saw the questionable hit that Warren Sapp applied to Packer offensive lineman Chad Clifton, heard the Bucs celebrating about the hit as Clifton was still down with numbness in his legs, the coach's patience had run out.<P> Sherman had words with Sapp after the Packers' 21-7 loss at Raymond James stadium Sunday, and Sapp - to put it mildly - did not react well. Here's what the coach had to say about the encounter:<P>

Midway through the third quarter Sapp left his feet to lay a hit on Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton during Brian Kelly's 31-yard interception return. Clifton was away from the play and not in the area or Kelly's return. Clifton suffered at least an injured right hip as a result of the hit and was carted off the field and taken to a Tampa hospital having complained of numbness in his limbs.

While Sherman said he's not sure if Sapp's hit on Clifton was legal, it the celebrating that went on afterward that led to his verbal confrontation with Sapp.

"I just went up to Warren and told him I didn't appreciate the lick that he put on Clifton and the joviality that existed afterward with a guy laying on the ground and numbness in his legs and his fingers," Sherman said. "I just thought that wasn't appropriate for any NFL player. I have a lot of respect for the game and I just didn't think there was a place for that.

"Maybe I overreacted to the hit," he said. "From what I saw it looked kind of cheap, but who knows? The afterthought, the after-reaction when a guy's laying numb on the ground and you -- who are responsible for that -- to be happy about it, that bothers me a little bit. And I think the game of football, it should bother the game of football as well."

As for Sapp, his reaction to Sherman was even stronger than his reaction to the hit. After Sherman directed a brief comment at Sapp as they exited the field, Sapp wheeled around and got in Sherman's face; the audio was not exactly fit for a general audience. Afterwards in the Bucs' locker room, an unrepentant Sapp said Sherman was "lucky" that Sapp isn't younger and without family responsibilities, or Sherman would have "got it."

Packers offensive guard Mike Wahle had been blocking Sapp earlier on the play.

"The ball was picked off and (Kelly) started running toward my left and Sapp was on my left so I kind of locked up on him," Wahle said. "The DB cut back and I started running to the right trying to find an angle. I heard Sapp kind of, he said something like he had maybe found a target. It turned out to be true."

Offensive guard Marco Rivera also expressed his opinion on Sapp's antics after the play:

"That's not part of the game," Rivera said. "When a guy's down and hurt, the last thing you want to do is taunt somebody."

Clifton was to spend Sunday night in a Tampa-area hospital for further evaluation.

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