Sapp, Middleton eager to beat former team

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned Oakland Raiders Warren Sapp (defensive tackle) and Frank Middleton (offensive guard have a little more in common than their current -- and former -- team.

They are both outspoken individuals but with different tasks. Sapp is out to stop his former team's offense that has been ineffective so far in not scoring an offensive touchdown in two games. Middleton's job is blocking against a defense that has allowed just 20 points in two games.

Their objective remains the same -- beat the Bucs. Sapp joined the Oakland Raiders n March after nine seasons helping turn the Bucs from a laughingstock to a contender. Middleton joined Oakland in 2001 from Tampa Bay.

"It's the hype that becomes bigger than anything else," Sapp said Wednesday. "The game's still played 11 on 11, bone on bone, first and second down, third down. You've got to bottle your emotions and go out and do what you're supposed to do. It'll be no different. I got no friends on offense. All my dogs play defense. I'm not going against them."

Sapp, however, is not shy that Sunday's game in Oakland is for bragging rights. It also will be an emotional rematch of the 2003 Super Bowl, won 48-21 by the Bucs, who are led by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

Sapp, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro, agreed to a seven-year, $36.6 million free agent contract with the Raiders in March.

Earlier this year, Sapp was confident that there would be a tenth season in Tampa Bay but the Bucs had other ideas. Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen -- Al Davis' longtime senior assistant who left the Raiders in January -- never made Sapp an offer.

"It's a business decision. Business happens every day," Sapp said.

Middleton later added of facing Gruden, who led the way for the Raiders from 1998-2001: "I hope it's hell. I hope everybody boos him loud and they can't get anything called from the sideline. I hope they make their lives miserable and make it a little bit easier on us."

"The biggest thing is going 2-1 and getting on a roll and showing everybody that we're improving," Middleton said. "If we go out and put up some numbers against Tampa Bay, a lot of people have to take notice."

Oakland starting free safety Ray Buchanan has so much empathy that he is looking ahead to facing his former team. The Raiders signed Buchanan as a free agent after his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, released him. Oakland visits Atlanta on Dec. 12.

"A game is a game," Buchanan said. "I can't wait until December 12. My day is coming too. It gets you excited to show the team that thought you didn't have it."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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