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Warren Sapp: The People's Champ

'Dancing With the Stars' finalist Warren Sapp says he feels like a winner without the trophy

View photos of Sapp and his celeb friends »

Now that the last dance has been had, former NFL star Warren Sapp says he enjoyed captivating audiences each week with his smooth moves on “Dancing With the Stars.” He gave it his all in the final competition, but in the end, actress Brooke Burke went home with the trophy. The crowd favorite shares his best moments from the season.

ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on making it to the finale! Did you really think you would make it to the end?
I didn’t. I came in with a humble mind. I left my ego at the door and built a bond that’s genuine. And every time I walked in that studio and every time I walked on that ballroom floor, I wanted to get a little better and I did that every time I stepped out there.

ESSENCE.COM: Is it different for you now to be recognized for dancing rather than football?
(Laughs.) Sweetheart, I tell all my friends we live in a subculture and that’s the football world. We’re like cavemen. I told them, Dude, I got recognized by a 6-year-old Asian girl with her parents going into a parking garage elevator and I was 50 yards away from her. She said, “Daddy, isn’t that the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ man?” It’s a new generation. It’s something different.

ESSENCE.COM: So for people out there who have two left feet, what tips can you offer to becoming a better dancer?
Get into character. Let’s just be honest, some of the stuff is a little nonmasculine. (Laughs.) I went to the back and one of the brothers came up to me and said, “You know, I just got to shake your hand. It takes somebody that is real [secure] with their sexuality and self to go out there and be free like that.” I’m out there to entertain. I ain’t worried about anything else. Once I hit the stage it’s on.
ESSENCE.COM: And have your peers from the football world finally accepted you as Warren the Dancer?
It took me the whole 12 weeks to win them over…. I mean, my heart swelled up last night when I got finished dancing. I got back to my trailer and looked through my Sidekick and I had all these messages. It was the boys on the there saying “Dog, I voted for you.”