OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Warren Sapp's nickname during his playing days was "Quarterback Killa." On Thursday night, he was more like "Compliment Killa."
Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan changed his number to No. 99 in honor of the Hall of Fame defensive lineman. But Sapp wasn't flattered. In fact, the boisterous and opinionated seven-time Pro Bowl defender was upset about it.
Four hours after the Ravens posted Jernigan's tribute on Twitter, this was Sapp's surprising reaction:
@Ravens how do I stop this??— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) May 26, 2016
It's unknown why Sapp would take offense to what seemed like a genuine gesture of admiration. Perhaps it has something to do with an old college rivalry. Sapp starred at the University of Miami, and Jernigan was a standout at Florida State.
But Jernigan had put Sapp on a pedestal for a long time.
"I always grew up watching Warren Sapp," Jernigan said. "I looked up to him. I definitely wanted to model my game after him."
A new number has coincided with a new work ethic with Jernigan. A second-round pick in 2014, Jernigan is looking to be a full-time starter for the first time in his NFL career.
He raised his offseason training this year with Olympic lifts and running his high school stadium stairs in the Florida heat. Even coach John Harbaugh mentioned how impressed he was with how Jernigan looked at this week's organized team activity.
Some of Jernigan's motivation comes from last year, when he missed the season opener with a knee injury, committed a costly mistake in a Week 2 loss in Oakland and lost his starting job to rookie Carl Davis for three games before regaining it.
“[I] just have to become that force that I was drafted here to be," Jernigan said. "I feel like last year I came up a little bit short. I feel like I had a good year, but to my standards I don’t think it was enough. I’ve definitely been busting my butt day in and day out. I’m doing whatever I can just to take it to the next level and get everybody around me to do the same thing.”
Jernigan is suddenly one of the more experienced players on the defensive line after Baltimore cut Chris Canty this offseason. With Canty gone, Jernigan had the chance to switch from No. 97 to No. 99, which is the number he had wanted all along because he loved how Sapp played the game.
"Nasty, ferocious, he came every play," Jernigan said. "You definitely knew he was there and when he made a play. Another thing, he played down in Florida, too, so he was definitely one of the greats from our state.”
By how Sapp responded on Twitter, the respect is far from mutual.