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Sapp says his choice was bankruptcy or jail


In his first public comments regarding a recent bankruptcy filing sparked by $6.7 million in reported debt, former NFL defensive lineman Warren Sapp says that he had two options.

Do you think I wanted to declare bankruptcy?'' Sapp tells Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. “Do you think if there was any other way possible I would have done it? It was either this or go to jail. Those were my choices.’'

Sapp explained that a construction deal gone bad resulted in 100 percent of his NFL Network earnings being garnished for 11 months. “You tell me what to do,’' Sapp said. “Do you keep working without a check? If you don’t pay your child support, you go to jail. This wasn’t something I wanted to do. This was something I had to do.’'

Sapp also addressed skepticism regarding the claim that he lost his Super Bowl ring, since it otherwise would now be sold to satisfy his debts.

“Is it so unbelievable that I misplaced my ring?’' Sapp said. “I wore it for 365 days, and we had a 7-9 season [in Tampa Bay in 2003] and I went to Oakland and I took it off. You never saw me with it anywhere. The only time I brought it out was when the NFL Network wanted us to wear it.

“We were at the Super Bowl, and I thought I handed it to someone, and he said I didn’t. I checked my luggage to see if it was in a side pocket. I checked my suit to see if I put it somewhere. What was I going to do? Yell and scream because I lost a ring? That ring didn’t make me a champion. Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly, Dwight Smith. That crew made me a champion.”

Sapp seems to resent the implication that he’s not being honest about the whereabouts of the ring.

“In my life, has anyone called me a liar? Why would I start now? Someone told me something that John Adams supposedly said. Facts are stubborn,” Sapp said. “I like facts.’'

One fact that he doesn’t run from is the presence of a large painting of a naked woman in his bedroom, the asset that has gotten the most attention from his bankruptcy filing.

“I’m not an interior decorator,’' Sapp said. “Some designer put that on the wall, and I liked it. It’s in my bedroom. By the time a woman gets there, she might be naked, too.’'

Of course, if there hadn’t been so many naked women in his bedroom, he wouldn’t have the kind of legal obligations that forced him to choose between bankruptcy and jail.