The business mindset in the National Football League revolves around one question when it comes to players:
What have you done for me lately?
For Ricky Sapp, it’s a question he hopes to have a solid answer for once his 2013-14 season comes to an end. A fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Sapp’s time with Andy Reid’s former squad was short-lived as injuries plagued the ex-Clemson standout. Sapp wound up on the Eagles’ injured reserve list as a rookie in 2010 due to a right knee injury that lingered on following his years at Clemson. In 2011, the woes continued for Sapp when he was waived by the Eagles after leaving the team in August for undisclosed reasons.
Sapp went on to sign with the Jets’ practice squad in October 2011. Following a bit of an on-again, off-again stint with the Jets’ practice squad, the former Bamberg-Ehrhardt standout found himself on the active roster in November 2012. He went on to play four games for the Jets and recorded no tackles.
Fast forward to this summer, where Sapp has returned to the Jets ready to make an impact in the AFC East.
“First and foremost,” he began, “I’ve just got to give God the glory for that because I was so blessed to have an opportunity to go the Jets to play under Rex, really get my feet wet and get back on the right track as a professional.”
Sapp describes the time he spent in mini-camp and at organized team activities as “great” and his efforts have some wondering if Rex Ryan hid Sapp as his latest secret weapon.
“I don’t know if he hid me or not,” Sapp joked. “If he did, I’m happy he did.”
But the expectations that Sapp has for himself this season, which happens to be a contract year for him, are high.
“I expect to go out this year and do some really big things,” Sapp said. “I expect for people to know my name after this year. I expect people to say, ‘OK, there goes the Ricky Sapp we knew in college.’ So, I’m excited. I’m going to go hard this summer and get ready for training camp. I’m ready to put on a show this year.”
While this year may be a contract year for Sapp, the one thing that he hasn’t focused on is the pressure to perform and that’s the way he intends to approach the rest of the season.
“You know what?” he said. “I’m not even worried about it. I think I’m already hard on myself as it is. As far as the pressure is concerned, I’m not worried about it. I’m just going to go out, play football, take it one day at a time and do my job.”
Sapp has always been competitive and this year is no different. This year, he will challenge his friend and former Clemson teammate Da’Quan Bowers in hopes of pushing each other to be better.
“Quan and I have always been competitive,” Sapp said. “Believe it or not, we talk trash during the season. This year, believe it or not, we’ve got a little bet going on who will get the most sacks. You know we play each other this year. So, there’s a lot of trash talking. We keep in touch. As far as taking care of each other, as far as taking care of our bodies and doing stuff together like massages and yoga, we keep in contact. But we’re really competitive with each other.”
The Jets, by many accounts, have underperformed over the last two years. With their last playoff appearance coming in 2010, the Jets have put together an overall record of 14-18 since then. While some may chalk it up to distractions, Sapp believes his team can overcome the circus that surrounds them.
“I think the biggest thing is we’ve got to do our part,” Sapp said. “We’ve got great, great, great, great teammates on the team. We’ve got a great coaching staff and a great organization. So, I think the biggest thing that we’ve got to continue to do is work hard, worry about everything in-house and let everything else work itself out.”
Football season is right around the corner. Sapp and the Jets will begin training camp at SUNY Cortland with the first practice taking place July 26. Knowing that football is right around the corner, Sapp can’t wait to take the field.
“It’s exciting, man, because, you know, we’re playing a kid’s sport,” Sapp said. “So, it’s fun to go to work every day knowing that you get to play football. It’s exciting to train hard, to be in training camp, to be around the guys and just go out and play football on Sundays.”