Baltimore Ravens up and coming lineman Timmy Jernigan announced his intention last week to switch his jersey number to honor a former NFL great who he admired growing up and now models his game after:
Timmy Jernigan has changed his number to 99 as a tribute to @WarrenSapp.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 26, 2016
Jernigan, who played the past two seasons as number 97, admired Sapp as "Nasty, ferocious, he came to play every game." As a Florida native, he watched Sapp play at University of Miami and then as a Tampa Bay Buc. When teammate Chris Canty retired this offseason, Jernigan decided to honor the former player.
However, his choice was not lauded by Sapp, who chose to be insulting and not the least bit gracious. Here was his response:
Not sure what his problem is. As great of a player as he was on the field though, he was a disaster off it. So hopefully Jernigan only copies the play between the hashmarks and not the actions outside the stadium.
Since Sapp retired, he hasn't had the best go of things. In 2010, Sapp was arrested and charged with domestic battery while in Florida as an analyst for the NFL Network's coverage of Super Bowl XLIV, but following the arrest the NFL Network cancelled his appearance. In 2015, the day after Super Bowl XLIX, Warren Sapp was arrested on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and assault, resulting in his termination by the NFL Network. More recently, he was accused of domestic abuse in 2015 in Las Vegas. He also owed child support and money to the IRS, filing bankrupcy and having all his assets sold off in 2012.
Jernigan is an ascending player in the NFL, and maybe Sapp's reaction will make him rethink the switch. Hopefully he will choose to honor a more gracious NFL legend than Sapp. Because clearly, the former Buccaneer doesn't deserve it or really want it.