The Raiders formally introduced Sapp at a press conference that also aired on ESPNnews Monday two days after signing a seven-year, $36.6 million dollar contract. Sapp spent nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I'm just sitting here and thinking, it's been nine years since I've had to talk about a team other than the one I just left," Sapp said. "It's refreshing more than anything. The big, bad Silver & Black and Warren Sapp coming together has got to be a marriage made in heaven. Let's see if we can get this place back to winning. The Raiders are back and I'm going to have something to do with it."
Sapp passed his physical on Sunday. Sapp leaves the only pro team he has played for two sacks shy of the franchise record of 78 1/2 held by Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon. Before free agency opened, he said he believes he can continue to play at a high level for four more years. The Bucs, however, felt a little differently. Sapp recorded 16 ½ sacks in 2000 but 18 ½ combined over the last three seasons.
When asked of whether or not the Bucs offered to keep him, Sapp said, "I'd say no, because I never got an offer. That's the only way you can get a player signed is to make an offer. I never got that."
Sapp continued: "I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. I think this coaching staff understands that I can still play this game. That's why I'm here."
Sapp becomes the second Pro Bowl defensive tackle to sign with the Raiders this offseason. Ted Washington signed a $14 million, four-year contract earlier this month. Washington helped lead the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl title last season. The Raiders are counting on Sapp to improve their run defense, which ranked last in the league in 2003. Oakland, which finished 4-12 only one year after reaching the Super Bowl, gave up 156.9 yards per game on the ground.
"Anyone who doesn't understand the significance of this signing for the raiders has never had to gameplan against Warren Sapp," Raiders first-year head coach Norv Turner said. "Our lineman came up to me and said, ‘Wow, that's big. The only bad part is we have to practice against him everyday.' The thing that Warren brings that people don't see is that he has great passion, great enthusiasm, he loves to play the game. He knows how to win. All of those things he brings with him are contagious."
Sapp was rumored to be joining the Cincinnati Bengals as recently as Saturday before the Raiders entered the picture.
"We were real close," Sapp said. "It was just one of those deals that we didn't feel good about. I woke up the next morning and Al Davis was on the line. That brought a smile to my face. At the end of the day I was a Raider."
Sapp, who was a first round draft puck from Miami in 1995, helped turn the Buccaneers from a perennial sad sack into a Super Bowl contender. Tampa thumped the Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVI.
"I built the doormat into a dynasty," Sapp said. "There's no ill will for me."