The player famous for his rough style of hitting and skill at hammering quarterbacks, couldn't fight off a bad construction deal that sent him into debt, a reality he spoke about for the first time with Tampa Bay Times columnist Gary Shelton.
Sapp who netted some $60 million during his career in the NFL, has found himself $6.7 million in debt because of a failed investment in building low-income housing in Fort Pierce, Fla., in 2005. Cue the continuing descent of the economy, and Sapp's audacious hopes curdled with the onset of the Great Recession.
"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's poor investment, in addition to his excessive life style, meant his bills went unpaid and his debt grew--forcing him to file for Chapter 7.
"When you live like I do,'' he said, "you know where you are and what you have to do. I'm not at war with me. I promise you this. I will never go to jail.''
Though Sapp grew up in a house without airconditioning or cable, his lush consumerist instincts have come a long way: at his house he had 240 pairs of sneakers and a painting of a nude woman on his bedroom wall. His super bowl ring was missing, an item that could have been a valuable sell in repairing at least some of his debt.
The former NFL star seems committed to rectifying his financial troubles.
"This is just another situation I have to get myself out of," he said.
A Cautionary Tale
Once the epitome of the monetary security a pro-sports career can bring, Sapp has now instead become a cautionary example of the need to diversify investments.
But Sapp might do well to consider his artistic finesse as opposed to his brutish athleticism in trying to recover his fortune: His second-place finish on Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars -- where B- and C-listers go to be reborn -- is a promising sign. He's enough of a household name that he could easily milk his personal brand and celebrity for monetary gains.
Whatever his game plan is for digging himself out of financial ruin, he might want to start with an incentives-based saving plan with positive-reinforcement options as offered by SaveUp.