TAMPA, Fla. — The game between the Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t start until 9 p.m. Monday, but that didn’t stop players from entering the fray early.
While both teams were warming up about 30 minutes before kickoff, a brief series of pushing and shoving incidents occurred on the Steelers’ side of the 50. The main combatants appeared to be backup Buccaneers linebacker Nate Webster and Steelers linebackers James Farrior and Joey Porter. Buccaneers wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson quickly ushered Webster back to his side of the field, and order was restored. There were no further incidents.
Also in warm-ups, Bucs defensive lineman Warren Sapp ran through the Steelers on his way to the Tampa Bay end of the field. Steeler running back Jerome Bettis shoved Sapp, but it went no further than that.
It was the first physical confrontation between the teams since Steelers strong safety Lee Flowers called the Buccaneers “paper champions” after the Steelers’ 17-10 victory last year in Tampa.
Flowers refused to apologize for the statement last week, and Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp responded by insulting Flowers with a vulgar obscenity.