Warren Sapp filed for bankruptcy to avoid going to jail

Warren Sapp says a bad construction deal at the worst possible time sent him spiraling into debt that led him to file for bankruptcy last week.

Sapp made his first comments on the situation to Tampa Bay Times columnist Gary Shelton and said he was motivated to file for bankruptcy with $6.7 million worth of debt because he didn’t want to go to jail.

Do you think I wanted to declare bankruptcy?'' Sapp told Shelton. "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 estimates he grossed about $60 million during his playing days, primarily with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now he’s reduced to not much. It’s a little hard to believe one failed investment project, building homes in Fort Pierce, Fla., broke him. But that’s what Sapp explains.

Since, he’s become the butt of plenty of jokes. Sapp claims he’s lost not only his Super Bowl XXXVII ring but also his ring he earned as a member of a national championship team at the University of Miami. Losing one ring? OK. Losing two rings? Come on. They’re really been misplaced?

“"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?” Sapp said. “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. I like facts.”

Prior to the bankruptcy news, Sapp never publicly asked for anyone to assist him in a search for his missing jewelry.

Sapp says he may be down financially but he’s not letting it keep him down.

“When you live like I do,'you know where you are and what you have to do,” he said. “I'm not at war with me. I promise you this. I will never go to jail.''

In legal documents, he did claim 240 pairs of Nike shoes and a painting of a naked woman as assets.

“I'm not an interior decorator,'' Sapp said. "Some designer put that on the wall, and I liked it. It's in my bedroom. By the time a woman gets there, she might be naked, too.”

OK. Unfortunately, Sapp looks a little bare right now as a man with public and real financial issues.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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