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Memories of a rivalry at its height

NFC South Blog headquarters was going through a rare clean-up session this afternoon when I came across an old copy of The Charlotte Observer sports section.

The date on it is June 3, 2005, and I can’t find a link for it on the Observer’s site. However, I’m going to share some of this story and highlight a few quotes because it’s somewhat relevant as we get ready for Sunday’s game between Tampa Bay and Carolina.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because this rivalry once was as good as it got in the NFC South. Back in the mid 2000s, there were some brutal games between the Buccaneers and Panthers. One of the most brutal games might have been played off the field and that’s the story I’m referring to.

I wrote it, but really it was just a simple case of turning on my recorder and letting Kris Jenkins talk, which from a Panthers’ perspective wasn’t always a good idea, but the big guy sure could fill up a tape recorder.

All I know for sure is that this happened right after a June workout session. I can’t remember what, if anything, prompted Jenkins to go on a tear. But the former Carolina defensive tackle, now on injured reserve with the New York Jets, never needed much in the way of prompting.

On this particular day, Jenkins went after Warren Sapp, who then was with the Oakland Raiders. He previously had been with Tampa Bay and, in fairness to Jenkins, Sapp had taken some shots at the Carolina defensive line a few years earlier.

Anyway, here are some of the quotes that made the hair of Carolina PR director Charlie Dayton turn white even though I think Charlie’s only about 29 now.

“I hate [Sapp],’’ Jenkins said. “Everybody says I’m supposed to be polite when I talk to you all. But I hate him. He talks too much. He doesn’t make any sense. He’s sloppy. He acts like he’s the best thing since sliced bread.

“He’s ugly. He stinks. His mouth stinks. His breath stinks and basically, his soul stinks, too. Too many people like that can’t have personalities like that and survive in life. I don’t know how he does it. I guess because he’s big and he went to [the University of] Miami.’’

By the way, Sapp and Jenkins later made up and each has said he’s cool with the other. But, ah, the good old days when Tampa Bay and Carolina was more than just another game.

Next time I do some cleaning, I’ll see if I can find some of the stuff former Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun had to say about the Gramatica brothers. Come to think of it, somewhere in that office, I’m pretty sure there is a tape of Sauerbrun, who made Jenkins seem as smooth as a diplomat, with a bunch of Gramatica quotes that never made it to print, because they weren’t fit for print.