There's plenty of blame to parcel out among the actors in last Saturday's ghoulish draft-day sideshow, the saga of Warren Sapp, the 6'1�", 285-pound lineman from the University of Miami who was once the most-coveted defensive player available. ESPN deserves some for the way its cameras leered at Sapp as he went unchosen as a result of fresh reports of his involvement with drugs. The NFL and commissioner Paul Tagliabue merit some too, for inexplicably taking until late last week to tell teams about league background checks reporting that Sapp had tested positive seven times while at Miami, including once for cocaine, in addition to a previously reported positive for marijuana at February's NFL scouting combine. Also, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who ultimately chose Sapp with the 12th pick of the first round, did so only after first righteously saying they wanted no part of him ("Too much baggage," said player personnel director Jerry Angelo on April 12) and then apologetically reversing field when a player who can run a 4.69 40 and dunk a basketball slipped into range ("There's no addiction indicated in any way," said coach Sam Wyche on Saturday afternoon).
Meanwhile Sapp's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, indignantly denied that Sapp had ever been involved with drugs, only to be ultimately contradicted by his own client. Seattle Seahawk coach Dennis Erickson, whom Sapp played for in college, also said that reports of Sapp's drug use were "erroneous" mere hours after he told ESPN's Chris Berman on Friday that Sapp had indeed tested positive more than once as a Hurricane. Of course, Sapp himself deserves blame. After first calling reports of his using drugs "a total fabrication," he conceded that he did flunk one test as a Hurricane. Denial, as the saying goes, is not a river in Egypt.
But the most curious player in the melodrama may be Sapp's alma mater. Assuming the report of seven positive tests is true, how can a college player test positive again and again yet still routinely play out his career? According to Miami's drug-testing policy, a second positive test results in a one-game suspension, and a third causes suspension for the season. Sapp missed two games during the three years he played at Miami—one of them for violating an unspecified team rule in 1992 and the other because of injury. It's a violation of NCAA rules for a school to fail to follow its own drug-testing policies.
Sapp will be subject to random drug testing at Tampa Bay, possibly once a week, and could be suspended four weeks without pay for a positive test. Another positive test could mean suspension for life without pay. As for the 11 teams that passed on him, Sapp says, "I just hope they're on the schedule." Here's hoping Sapp will remain a Buc long enough to prove them wrong.