DT Warren Sapp says he and his teammates get just one layer of undergarments in the Chicago cold
Is it cold out here? Yes.
Is it cold out here? Uh…a little.
Is it cold out here? No, sir.
That's an imagined conversation between Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp and any given teammate. The setting: Chicago's Soldier Field, a gray and chilly place, at least on this day.
Head Coach Tony Dungy wants his team to believe that the cold weather is a factor in the team's chance for success. Judging from his attitude, Sapp is planning to force his teammates to believe.
"You only get one layer – that's my rule," said Sapp, discussing the wardrobe choices for Sunday's game. "I only get one layer, so that goes for everyone, because I'm the worst guy for the cold. I went from Orlando to Miami to Tampa…I haven't even gone above latitude 29."
Despite that 'thin blood', Sapp doesn't believe the Bucs are at a disadvantage to the Bears in colder weather.
"I don't care if you were born in an igloo, you don't just become cold-weather tolerant," he said. "Cold weather is cold weather. It's not like we're going from 150 degrees in Tampa to negative 20 in Chicago. The whole country has been cooling off gradually.
"It's only three hours. We just need to get our job done and get out of hour."
Actually, the team is not-too-secretly hoping the thermometer won't warm up, because Sunday's game is a prime opportunity to break the franchise's well-publicized string of futility in sub-40 degree conditions.
"We're 0-17 in cold weather, huh?" asked Sapp. "How many times has this team, with this talent, under Coach Dungy played in that weather? Twice? And one doesn't count because it was right at 40, right?
"If this ballclub played five games in cold weather and lost them all, then I'd be worried. Then I'd think it was having an effect."
On the other hand, Sapp does believe the Bears' offense line could be a determining factor.
"Their offensive line - the best in our division," said Sapp. "I respect them a lot. Olin Kreutz plays hard-nosed football, makes the right calls. I like their guards, too. These guys don't get talked about a lot, but you talk about them after you play them.
"The thing is, they've changed the system. They used to run the power-O at you 30 times a game, just pound it on you. Now it's more finesse. They don't really run downhill at you anymore."
Oh, and one more thing. Don't put too much stock in the Bears' last-place record. Sapp won't let his team look past 2-8 Chicago to supposedly tougher games ahead.
"You can't do that, you just can't," he said. "It doesn't work for you. It didn't work for the Indianapolis Colts.
"I don't think the Colts would tell you that the Bears are a 2-8 team. They overlooked them and then found themselves down 27-0 before they knew it. It knocked them out of their game."