ESPN anchor Sage Steele went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday and told a anecdote about Warren Sapp and her underwear. But don’t get the wrong idea.
Rather, Steele was discussing the hassles of dealing with athletes, and she recalled an embarrassing run-in with Sapp during her younger days covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for WFTS-TV.
“I color my hair every three weeks,” Sage told Kimmel. “I’m completely gray and it began because of locker room experiences.”
Pressed for specifics by the Kimmel, Steele delved into Sapp’s ... uh ... fashion sense and her naivete at the time. Remember, before Sapp became a Pro Football Hall of Famer and media Teddy bear, he was known for a less-than-affable relationship with reporters.
“I went from Indianapolis to Tampa, brand new, literally right out of training camp. ... and walked into the locker room,” said Steele, who worked at WFTS from 1998 to 2001. “I was young and scared and trying to impress. I’m a journalist; I’m here, all business.”
Then came her first meeting with Sapp in the locker room at the Bucs’ old training facility on West Shore Boulevard.
“He called me over, and of course the idiot that I was, I walked over with my ... trusty photographer, and (he) introduced himself and I introduced myself. And he said, ‘Where are you from?’ I said I moved here from Indianapolis.”
Sapp chuckled and, “I could tell.”
Steele was confused. How did Sapp know she was from Indiana?
“I’m an Army brat, I have no accent, I don’t probably fit most Indiana stereotypes,” she said. “And so he said, ‘I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to make you wait till our bye week.’ ”
That would be a couple of months away, but when the time arrived, a gullible Steele approached Sapp in the locker room and asked for the answer.
“It’s very easy,” she recalled Sapp saying. “Because all women from Indianapolis — Naptown — wear granny panties. I didn’t even know what granny panties were.”
For the novice, they are high-waisted underwear briefs, not usually considered hip or fashionable.
Steele was embarrassed, but credited Sapp, in his own irritating way, of starting her on a new road of chic.
“What I need to do is I need to thank Warren Sapp for being that obnoxious because I then went shopping, and I evolved,” she told Kimmel.