DT Warren Sapp first started looking ahead to a football career in the 10th grade, said his mom
by Mikko Simon, NFLHS.com
Warren Sapp is one of the most feared defensive tackles in the NFL and a leader of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. After a stellar career at the University of Miami, the Bucs made him a first-round draft pick in 1995. He was a consensus All-Rookie pick and has earned three Pro Bowl appearances since then.
In a continuing series of interviews with the mothers of NFL players, NFLHS.com learned more about Sapp and his high school experiences from his mother, Annie Roberts.
Annie Roberts says that it wasn't until Warren's senior year at Apopka High School in Apopka, Fla., that they really realized that football could become a career for him.
"Warren always played sandlot football with his brothers and friends, but it wasn't until [10th grade] that he played organized football," Mrs. Roberts said.
"In school, Warren was an average student who excelled in sports of various kinds. His outgoing personality, competitiveness and showmanship has always been a natural part of his being."
Mrs. Roberts' fondest memory of Warren's high school career was when she realized that he wasn't dependent on football but that his idea of winning had developed from a deeper desire to succeed.
As far as her involvement in the beginning of Warren's organized football career, Mrs. Roberts is pretty clear on her role.
"I played the 'supporting mother.' She said. "I attended all of his games; I was a taxi service for pick-up and drop-off to and from practice for Warren and his friends; I never missed a game, even if I had to attend a game after leaving work from a second job."
What is Mrs. Roberts' most vivid memory of the college recruiting process?
"I had no idea that my evenings with my family would be suddenly interrupted or that my phone could ring so often," she stated. "This memorable experience could only be summed up in the following adjectives: hectic, stressful, exciting and overwhelming.
"I suggest that you have some type of outline detailing specific things that you want in the best interest for your child's education. Don't be persuaded by fast-talking and promises of 'instant success'."
Mrs. Roberts also has a good tip for some families: "An answering machine is definitely helpful."
According to Mrs. Roberts, standing behind your children and encouraging them is one of the most valuable things you can do to help them succeed.
"I would tell parents to support their children in anything they want to do. Encourage them to study hard and don't let anyone tell them that they can't succeed at accomplishing their goals. And always pray," she reminded.
As far as her current involvement in her son's superstar NFL role, Mrs. Roberts is very clear.
"I'm still committed to supporting my son's football career, and whenever he's on the field, I remain his number one fan!"