Jesse Sapolu was known during his 14-year 49ers career as the no-nonsense tough guy who blocked for some of the most iconic plays in NFL history. Sapolu was a well-decorated Pro Bowler at both guard and center, collecting four super bowl rings while winning the Garry Niver Award, the Bobb McKittrick Award (twice), and the Ed Block Courage Award.
This week, however, Sapolu was a Pro Bowl story teller and comedian as he shared a gem involving former safety Merton Hanks and team owner Eddie DeBartolo on the DNP-CD Sports podcast Episode #3, released Monday.
Sapolu told a hilarious tale of what unfolded the week leading up to Super Bowl XXIX against the Chargers. It became public knowledge that the flashy Deion Sanders was late to curfew leading up to the big game and Jerry Rice scolded him in front of teammates for not taking things more seriously. What happened next, however, was a story for the ages.
Sapolu said Sanders was only about 10 minutes late and after Rice (and Head Coach George Seifert) scolded the team, he learned that Hanks and others were almost two hours late. Sapolu, being the veteran on the team, went to confront Hanks, who was 28-years old at the time.
“After we calmed things down, I said, ‘Merton, what the heck man?’” Sapolu recalled. “Two hours late?”
Hanks responded, “Jesse, we were drinking with Eddie DeBartolo.”
Sapolu was stunned, incredulously asking, “What?“
“Yeah we were with Eddie D,” Sapolu recalled Hanks saying. “It’s alright. It’s alright.”
Picturing this exchange is comedic gold -- Sapolu, the veteran, trying to protect the 49ers' culture gets, a wake-up call from Hanks, who had the ultimate hall pass from the man at the top of the organization.
The entire Episode 3 of the DNP-CD Podcast features more gems from Sapolu including his take on the Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana debate. Jesse also puts a number on exactly how many of his former teammates he’s aware of who are struggling with their mental health and recalls an emotional phone call from Bill Walsh. The podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes or can be viewed in its entirety here.
To see the short clip of Jesse Sapolu explaining his vote in the Joe Montana vs. Tom Brady debate, click here.