Warren Sapp was not into gay porn or bad clock management when he played for the Raiders.

Warren Sapp was not into gay porn or bad clock management when he played for the Raiders.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of a most memorable locker-room diatribe. Not many athlete interactions are worth revisiting a decade later. Then again, few meet at the intersection of Warren Sapp, terrible offensive football and gay pornography.

The Raiders’ 2006 season was staggering to its conclusion when Sapp stomped into the locker room on a sleepy Wednesday in Alameda. By this time, he had come to be regarded as the Raiders’ warrior-sage. Sapp could be dismissive, intimidating, even cruel to reporters on occasion. But he treated the beat writers well, and in his better moments he was a brilliant analyst and comedic commentator on the game he played.

Sapp touched a lot of topics on this particular day, but mostly he unburdened himself of complaints about the Raiders offense. And it was, with apologies to the 49ers of early Alex Smith or Blane Gabbert, the worst offense I have ever seen. By far. The 2006 Raiders scored 12 offensive touchdowns all season. There were times it seemed as though the offense hadn’t practiced the week before, or hadn’t entered the stadium with a written game plan.

One of those days was a 20-9 loss to the Chiefs on Dec. 23. Four days later, Sapp could no longer contain his disgust.

Particularly galling to the now-Hall of Fame defensive tackle was Oakland’s continuing adventures in clock management.

“What’s the first play of two-minute?” he asked, eyes bulging in Sapp fashion. “Draw or screen, right? Send it to the back, right? Keep the clock running, right? Did you see that? Nope. Two incomplete passes. It was 14 seconds off the clock. Well, we got one and it was third-and-six, right? 1:46 on the clock from (the 2-minute warning). That’s 14 seconds, they haven’t burned a timeout. And we’re right there on our side of the 50. I’m looking at this, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? I know I got Lechler, but are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?’ At least let me see a timeout burned or something.”

Colorful, but the passage that would outlive Sapp’s playing days was this one: “It was something that was really, really on the edge of like gay porn. That’s what we call it. When it’s real bad football, that’s what we call it: gay porn. Something you don’t want to watch. Something you just don’t want to see on the TV. Something you don’t even want to talk about. That’s gay porn.”

OK, let’s be clear about something. Sapp’s analogy was insulating. All of God’s (adult) creatures, no matter what shade of ethnicity or nuance of gender identification, have the inalienable right to consume porn. To characterize gay pornography as inherently disgusting is to deny LGBT people their sexuality, which is to deny them their ability to love, which is to diminish their humanity. Not good.

The website outsports.com had an arch take on this in a column printed upon Sapp’s retirement a year later: “Sapp has a point – there is a lot of gay porn that’s hard to watch. Cheesy music, lame dialogue, lousy production values and guys not as hot as advertised. It does kind of remind me of watching Sapp’s Raiders the last few years.”

I’m not endorsing the “gay porn” reference. But I did run with it in a blog post.

And then something unexpected happened.

The blog platform used by the Press Democrat in those days had a cool feature that allowed you to see where the clicks were coming from. Not every click (at least not in my hazy recollection), but a sample. So if I blogged, for example, about John Shoop succeeding Tom Walsh as offensive coordinator, I could see that a few hits came from people searching “Shoop replaces Walsh” on Google or whatever, and a few more came from loyal souls who went to the PD website first and found my post there, while others were directed from someone else’s website that had included a link to my story. It was fun to look at.

So a few days after my post on Sapp’s clock-management riff, I noticed it was getting a lot of reads, relatively speaking. So I went to the “traffic flow” feature and got a surprise: About half of the clicks were coming from people searching “gay porn.”

As a beneficiary of the online porn industry, I was happy to get the eyeballs. I was also a little sad for the poor dupes who had unwittingly stumbled on my “Inside the Raiders” blog. Imagine some schmoe in Fort Worth. He closes the blinds in his home office. He locks the door, dims the lights, gathers whatever accessories he needs for the occasion and fires up his 2006-era PC, laboring through a dial-up connection for a little well-deserved pleasure. He types “gay porn” into his search field and, as his eagerness peaks and his breath quickens, he reads an essay on how the Raiders couldn’t beat the Chiefs because Andrew Walter fumbled and Art Shell didn’t practice good clock management.

Talk about a mood kill!

Warren Sapp’s “gay porn” rant is only a footnote now, but it did have a lasting effect, at least on me. This was my introduction to search engine optimization, probably before I had even heard the term. The experience taught me that you can turbo-charge any run-of-the-mill football post simply by attaching a catchy title, like “Hot Busty Nurses” or “Obama Born Kenya” or “Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow.”

It’s a trick that comes in handy sometimes, because we don’t always have the 2006 Raiders to write about.