"Do you think I wanted to declare bankruptcy?'' Sapp said. "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 helped contribute to some of his financial problems. The failed deal resulted in Sapp having his earnings from the NFL Network garnished for 11 months.
The idea was to build low-income housing in Fort Pierce in 2005. Sapp said the original agreement was the houses would not be built until a buyer had been approved for a mortgage, but one of his partners approved the construction of three houses so there would be something to market. But 2005 was not a good time for real estate, and the houses went unsold.
"It didn't go well,'' said Sapp, who has a condo in Hollywood, Fla. "At the end of the day, we owed them a million dollars, and the two numb- - - - put their heads in the sand. They went after me.''
Because of the debt, Sapp's earnings from the NFL Network — 100 percent, he said — were garnished for 11 months. That meant his bills went unpaid, causing the debt spiral that led to his Chapter 7 filing.
"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.''
There also are reports about his missing Super Bowl ring. Sapp says he misplaced it and others are skeptical of the claim. I have to side with Sapp since others have had their rings lost, misplaced, or stolen, so it's not like it hasn't happened before.
“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.”
“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.”
Sapp may be down, but not out. He's embarrassed but not broken up about his financial situation.
"When you live like I do,'' he said, "you know where you are and what you have to do. I'm not at war with me. I promise you this. I will never go to jail.''
"This is just another situation I have to get myself out of,'' he said. "I grew up without cable and without air conditioning. Things aren't that bad yet.
"This isn't as tough a situation as when I came out of college, and there were reports of seven positive drug tests, and I was a 21-year-old man. I was coming to the worst franchise in pro football, and Sam Wyche was running a five-ring circus, and my teammates were calling me 'super-rook' because they didn't want me here. You stick a diamond in a pile of s- - - and it's still a diamond.
"If there is air in my lungs, I'll find a way.''
Sapp has a strong personality that may rub some the wrong way, but he'll be damned if he lets this keep him down. He considers this another obstacle in the game of life.