TAMPA - Whether he was skipping through an opposing team's pregame stretch or celebrating a sack, Warren Sapp was known to strike a pose. But for six hours? In preparation for his induction into Canton, Tampa Bay's disruptive defensive tackle sat exceedingly still for Blair Buswell this spring as the Pro Football Hall of Fame sculptor honed in on the specifics of designing a bust to capture No. 99's essence. "Sapp's got a lot of energy, but he sat and talked to me for a long time at his high-rise condo in Hollywood, Florida," said Buswell, who was named the Hall's primary sculptor in 2003, two decades after crafting his first bust. "Sapp's friends were there, but we got it done. I took pictures and we decided what kind of expression he wanted. . I hope I can pull it off."
Sapp's bronze likeness will be unveiled to the public during the Hall's induction ceremony. Buswell also worked on busts for three other members of the Class of 2013: wide receiver Cris Carter, tackle Jonathan Ogden and coach Bill Parcells. Buswell has sculpted more than 80 Hall of Fame busts, ranging from coaches Bill Walsh and Tom Landry to running back Marcus Allen. In 1992, Raiders owner Al Davis kept Buswell waiting for eight hours, then gave him all of 20 minutes. In his 30 years of working with NFL immortals, Buswell has been asked to take off sideburns or add eyeblack, bandannas and hats to Hall of Fame busts. "The man sat in my house for six hours to get the job done," Sapp said. "He carved it right in front of my face, with my ex-wife right there, telling him how long the braids got to be in the back. We're good." One day after visiting with Carter, Buswell made the drive over to Sapp's condo for a long consultation. "I don't leave until they're comfortable with the expression on the bust," Buswell said. "Sapp pulled a stool over to one of the windows and we talked and talked. It went well and I take a lot of pride in getting it right." Buswell shipped the 25-pound bust off to Canton. When Sapp learned he was entering the Hall in his first year of eligibility, he was asked how he wanted to be captured forever in bronze. "It ought to be with the dreads," Sapp said. "Because when you saw that Sapp coming, you were in trouble." firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7833 Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO