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Warren Sapp on Rob Johnson-Doug Flutie

By Mark Gaughan

It's always a good day in Buffalo when we can reminisce about the Flutie-Johnson era.

The year was 2000. Wade Phillips' Buffalo Bills were riding high on a four-game winning streak and coming off an emotional, 21-17 win at Kansas City. They were 7-4. Another playoff season seemed likely.

Then they went to Tampa and it all fell apart. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Warren Sapp was a member of that Bucs defense. Sapp has written a new book, "Sapp Attack," and he's on a promotional tour for it. Sapp was in studio at New York's WFAN on Monday and did an interview with Mike Francesa.

Late in the interview, Francesa and Sapp were talking about the Saints' bounty scandal. Francesa asked: "Isn't your job always to knock the quarterback out of the game?"

Replied Sapp: "No. We were playing the Buffalo Bills one time and it was Rob Johnson and the backup was Doug Flutie. We sacked Rob about three times in the first quarter. Rod Marinelli [the Bucs' defensive line coach] came over to me on the sideline he looked at me and said, 'Do not knock that man out of this game. Do not knock that man out of this game, Warren!' I said, 'Yes, sir.' ... Hey, when the backup is faster ... We didn’t want to chase that guy ... “

The Bills lost that game, 31-17, as well as three starters (Sam Cowart, Sam Rogers and Keion Carpenter) to injuries. They also gave up a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown that broke the game open. (That was the year the Bills achieved the Negative Grand Slam of Special Teams, ranking last in all four return-coverage categories.) It was the first of four straight losses to complete an 8-8 season, which led to the firing of Phillips and the start of the "Lost Decade."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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