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HOME > Dancing with the Stars > Dancing with the Stars 7

Derek Hough downplays report of altercation with Warren Sapp


By Steve Rogers and John Bracchitta, 11/26/2008 

Former NFL star Warren Sapp may have retired from football, but he apparently didn't leave all of his aggression on the field.

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Although the details of the altercation remain unclear, Sapp reportedly got into a heated argument with Derek Hough, the professional partner of newly-crowned Dancing with the Stars champion Brooke Burke, during a rehearsal for the group dance that was performed on Monday night's finale performance show.

According to a Tuesday afternoon TMZ.com report, the incident started when Sapp arrived several hours late at the rehearsal and then began complaining that he was having a difficult time following the routine.  Several of the other dancers then reportedly responded that it was Sapp's own fault that he had arrived in the middle of the rehearsal, after which Sapp allegedly "snapped" and threw Hough against a wall, causing a standoff that only ended once cooler heads prevailed.

Sapp wouldn't comment on the report after last night's Dancing with the Stars finale and instead told reporters to "ask Derek" about it, according to OK! Weekly.  Hough did acknowledge that there had been an altercation between Sapp and himself but was also quick to downplay the incident.

"This has been blown way out of proportion," Hough told reporters, according to OK. "Warren and I exchanged a few words at rehearsal that lasted seconds. The idea that Warren would do physical harm to me or anyone is outrageous. We're all become good friends during the season."

Several other Dancing with the Stars cast members who were present at the rehearsal also confirmed a disagreement of some type had occurred but didn't disclose any details about the incident.

"I happened to be at that rehearsal and they got into a little thing, but I think it has more to do with the intensity of the moment; guys having to coordinate their moods and their travel schedules and their work schedules, and things bubble up and honestly, they're all teammates at this point. There’s no losers here,"  seventh-season contestant Jeffrey Ross told OK!.

Professional dancer Corky Ballas -- who had been paired with former The Mary Tyler Moore Show star Cloris Leachman on the show's seventh season -- also confirmed an incident had happened and seemed to acknowledge Sapp was the aggressor.

"I think that Warren thinks this is a football field. I mean this in a good way," Ballas told OK!. "All his life, they get mad at themselves and angry so they can get out there and play well so he’s only doing what his instincts are, under pressure with adrenalin."

"I told Derek, 'let it go right off your [back].'" he added. "It's part of psyching people out. Some psych-out tactics work. It doesn't work on Derek."

Indeed the distraction didn't bother Hough, as and his celebrity partner Brooke Burke received a perfect judges' score for their final dance and went on to win the show's seventh-season mirror ball trophy over Sapp and his professional partner Kym Johnson.

Mark Ballas, Corky's son, and Derek's close friend, also said that the argument had been blown out of proportion and that there was no lasting bad blood between Sapp and Hough. He also added that high emotions on the set of Dancing with the Stars could easily lead to incidents when the dancers have to work together as a unit.

"There are stressful times and when you're working together, sometimes people get heated at each other," Ballas told OK!. "When you're together 24-hours-a-day and you're working, sometimes you just talk to each other out of frustration. Things like that happen. But [Hough and Sapp] are cool."



(Photo credit ABC)


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