Gerome Sapp Q&A: Insiders Edition

Gerome Sapp talks about the hardest part of leaving Indy, what he liked about playing for Ravens head coach Brian Billick, and much more as we conclude this special feature exclusively for our Insiders!


Q:  What's the hardest part about leaving Indianapolis?

GS:  Leaving the people you've met while you've been with the team, the relationships you've built. A lot of people don't realize that it's hard, especially with free agency, to really open yourself up to your teammates on a personal level -- but it happens.  It's hard because guys come and go in this league every day, and that's just the way of the business. But you end up developing relationships with guys, getting to know them and their families, so having to pick up and leave those friendships -- even though you can still be friends with them, your leaving them behind. That's one of the hardest parts of all this. And then Coach Dungy was such a wonderful coach, and a wonderful guy, it'll be hard not having him around every day. But that's the way it is in this business, and you have to be professional about it. And that's what I'm focusing on right now is being a businessman about it, and closing that chapter in my life, and open up a new one back in Baltimore.

Q:  What did your experience in Indianapolis mean to you on a personal level?

GS:  Indianapolis was really good for me because it gave me a chance to grow as a player and as an individual. When I was in Baltimore initially, I feel like I was still a young guy, a rookie. But I grew a lot when I had to come to Indianapolis, a place where I didn't know anybody and established myself as a pretty good player for the team. I think a lot of that will help me in the long run. I have nothing bad to say about Indianapolis. I really did love this place. But I know I've got to close that chapter and move on to a new one.

Q:  Now even though you're going to close that chapter, there's no doubt that you've made some friendships that will last. Who are some of the guys that you know you'll be staying in touch with just as you have with some of the guys you used to play with in Baltimore?

GS: Definitely Bryan Fletcher and Aaron Moorehead. Those are the guys I always hung out with, talked to, and they're really good people. And we're alike in a lot of ways, so off the top of my head, those are the guys I'll definitely be keeping in touch with.

Q:  Do you have some old friends Baltimore from your rookie season that you're excited about being reunited with?

GS:  Running back Musa Smith, offensive lineman Tony Pashos, defensive lineman Jarret Johnson, (fullback) Ovie Mughelli, linebacker Bart Scott, and a couple of other guys such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, it'll be fun playing with those guys again. And it's going to be fun playing with Steve McNair, too. He's definitely a plus for the team and everybody's really excited about him. 

Q:  If I remember correctly from one of our previous interviews, you really liked the atmosphere in Baltimore. Tell us what you like about it...

GS:  On an every day basis, I don't think there was as much separation between coach and player. It wasn't like, "I'm the coach, you're the player, this is how it should be done." It was more like, "I'm a coach, your a player and we're in this together. If you don't feel it should be done like this, tell me why and we'll try it your way." I think all of our leaders on the team were older guys who were already established in the league, like Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, and they were very vocal leaders. They would go to the coaches and the coaches would actually listen to them, and that translated down to us even as rookies. And playing on a defense with players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed got you excited and ready to play. So I think that was the main difference, just the anatomy of the team from top to bottom -- from the ownership down to the rookies. And I'm not saying that Indianapolis was bad, I'm just saying in Baltimore it was a little more of a feeling of being an equal in terms of upper management down to through the lower players.

Q:  I know you loved playing for Tony Dungy. But what do you remember about playing for Brian Billick during your rookie season that you really enjoyed?

GS:  The way he took care of the players, took care of our bodies -- not doing things just to do them. Like later on in the season, we didn't wear pads when we practiced. If you're a physical team, you're a physical team. Practicing with pads isn't going to make you physical, that comes from within. And that really saved guys' legs late in the season. He was definitely a players' coach. Coach Dungy's the same way, but Coach Billick took it a step further at times, like rearranging practice schedules so we wouldn't be out later when it got dark earlier, so we can be home off our feet watching film at home instead and stuff like that.

Q:  Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans in Indianapolis who will be continuing to follow your career?

GS:  Definitely. Indianapolis was a wonderful place for me. I met a lot of good fans and good people here in this city.  I grew up a lot here and I thank Indianapolis for that. It was really fun being here, and please continue to cheer for me even though I'm playing for another team. 

Q:  And how about anything you'd like to say to the fans in Baltimore?

GS:  I'm coming home. I'm coming back to where I started, and you can look for good things from me.


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