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Warren Sapp fires back at Michael Strahan

This composite image shows Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive

This composite image shows Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, left, and a note given by Sapp to Newsday's Neil Best of Sapp's top five Hall of Fame picks. Credit: Getty Images, Newsday

Now it's personal.

"I can't make a man respect me, but I will stop him from disrespecting me -- I tell you that," Sapp told Newsday Wednesday night, launching the latest salvo in a war of words with Michael Strahan that has lasted more than a decade.

Sapp took issue with Strahan's comments Tuesday in which the former Giants defensive end suggested Sapp was being a "coward" for telling Newsday -- rather than Strahan directly -- that he questioned Strahan's Hall of Fame credentials.

Sapp, who was inducted last year, also wasn't pleased with Strahan saying "the tiger doesn't listen to the opinions of a sheep."

Said Sapp: "Really? I didn't know there were many first-ballot sheep running around."

Speaking on Radio Row at the Super Bowl during a break in his duties as an NFL Network analyst, Sapp said he still thinks Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Charles Haley and Marvin Harrison deserve induction ahead of Strahan. He handed Newsday a card with those four names and "92" listed fifth and asked that it be delivered to Strahan. (On Tuesday, he included Tony Dungy in that list and not Haley.)

But he said his opinion is strictly football-based, not personal. "He's the one who took it personally," Sapp said.

"I'm just wondering if it wasn't somebody else saying it would it be taken on face value that those four dudes have a better resume?" he asked. "Like John Quincy Adams said in 1800, 'Facts are stubborn.' " (Actually it was his father, John Adams, who said it.)

"It was about his resume; I wasn't talking about the man. But the sheep and the lion and all that? I don't understand. He still can't rush that right end. Three years, 12 sacks!"

Sapp was referring to Strahan's first three seasons in the NFL. Strahan totaled 13 sacks in 39 games at right end from 1993-95. He switched to the left side in 1996.

"I didn't go after him [personally]. You were sitting right there . . . I just didn't understand the venom in it this morning. Oh, that's right, I'm in his city. I should be more hospitable."

Then Sapp offered a parting shot reminding New Yorkers this could have been his city if the Jets had taken him with the No. 9 pick in the 1995 NFL draft. Sapp went 12th to Tampa Bay.

"Y'all had your chance," he said, laughing. "You took Kyle Brady."

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