Sapp insists food was tampered with on road trips

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Warren Sapp is a very picky eater.

The Oakland Raiders' defensive tackle refuses to eat out on team trips for fear of getting sick, and he's not talking about the rare case of food poisoning.

Sapp insisted Wednesday his food was tampered with during his nine-year tenure in Tampa Bay from 1995-2003.

"You get your food poisoned," Sapp said at Raiders headquarters. "They don't want you out there on Sunday. You don't think about it. It just got crazy."

He pointed specifically to three incidents: Before the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia at the end of the 2002 season, which the Bucs won en route to the Super Bowl title; before a divisional playoff game at Green Bay in January 1998; and at New Orleans, where the Bucs played a game during the 1998 season.

"I know it's real, especially in Philly, come on," said Sapp, long an unpopular figure in the NFL for his play and his mouth.

Sapp's comments caught Raiders coach Art Shell by surprise.

"That's the first I ever heard of it," said Shell, who spent five years working for the NFL before the Raiders hired him again in February. "Even being in the league office, I never heard that. That's scary."

Although San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan McCardell said he didn't know of any specific incidents of food poisoning involving Sapp, he understands Sapp's concerns.

"I know what Warren's talking about," said McCardell, teammates with Sapp for his final two seasons in Tampa Bay. "If you were Warren, a lot of people may target you. ... When I was in Jacksonville, Tom [Coughlin] said, 'Don't eat anything outside of what we're served as a team.'"

During his time with Tampa Bay, Sapp even went so far as to book two hotel rooms -- one under an alias -- so he could order room service and not worry about his food.

Sapp, who turns 34 next month, said he requested bottles of water with the cap still on.

"You have to, though," Sapp said of being cautious. "It's either that or feel bad."

For example, Sapp said that about a month after the Bucs won the Super Bowl, he and a friend traveled from Philadelphia to New York to watch Michael Jordan in his retirement tour at Madison Square Garden. First, they had dinner in Philadelphia, trading plates at the restaurant after their orders came. Then, Sapp said, his friend repeatedly threw up all the way to New York.

Sapp, who joined the Raiders before the 2004 season, said he has not had food poisoning after leaving Tampa Bay.

"I've been good out here on the West Coast," he said. "I guess they're more liberal out here."