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Sterling Sharpe
Courtesy: Packers.com

WWJD #16 – The NFL Hall of Fame Needs To Add Sharpe

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There is a great injustice that has been happening in the NFL Hall of Fame. Former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe is not a member.

 

The case can be made for many former NFL players and coaches. Former Raiders head coach Tom Flores, late wide receiver Cliff Branch, and former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler are three more names that should also be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Canton and those in charge of the process have fumbled by excluding these gentlemen from the highest honor in their field this year when they had the opportunity to elect them into the NFL Hall of Fame. In most of their cases, they redefined their position or were the first to accomplish something never done before.

For this article, I am talking about my childhood favorite player, Sterling Sharpe. He was a player who was mentioned as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL from 1989-1994. How blasphemous of me to say right?

Wrong. YES, I know Jerry Rice was playing and in the middle of his prime, but the only player that Sharpe can be measured against is the GOAT, Jerry Rice. Rice also had Bill Wash calling plays with Joe Montana and Steve Young throwing him the ball. Add in Dwight Clark, John Taylor, Roger Craig, Ricky Waters, Tom Rathman, Brent Jones, JJ Stokes, and Terrell Owens as other weapons in the offense, Rice had plenty of help around him.

 

I am not minimizing Rice’s accomplishments or what he did because he is the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game in my opinion.

 

 

Photo Credit: saturdaydownsouth.com

Let me introduce you to or give you a reminder of who Sterling Sharpe is. He was selected 7th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1987 NFL Draft after a record-setting career at the University of South Carolina. Sharpe left the Gamecocks as the school leader with 169 career receptions and 2,497 receiving yards and a since-broken record of 17 career touchdowns. He also set the school record for single-season receiving touchdowns with 11, which was broken (in 2005 by Sidney Rice). Sharpe’s No. 2 jersey was retired by South Carolina at the end of the 1987 regular season, making him the second Gamecock to be granted this honor while still playing.

The Packers needed a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, and Sharpe was that guy from the day he touched down in Green Bay. Sharpe made an immediate impact on the team. In his rookie season, he started all sixteen games and caught 55 passes. His sophomore season Sharpe led the league with 90 receptions, the first Packer to do so since Don Hutson in 1945, and broke Hutson’s records for receptions and receiving yards in a season.

Sharpe didn’t have “help” on the offensive side of the ball. He had Don Majkowski, Randy Wright, Blair Kiel, Anthony Dilweg, Mike Tomczak, and finally future NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre as his quarterbacks. At running back, there was Brent Fullwood, Kenneth Davis, Keith Woodside, Vince Workman, Darrell Thompson, Dexter McNabb, LeShon Johnson, Edgar Bennett, and Dorsey Levens, and aside from the last two backs, none of the running backs gave defenses any nightmares. Phillip Epps, Perry Kemp, Jeff Query, Erik Affholter, Mark Ingram, and Robert Brooks were a far cry Clark, Taylor, and Owens, unlike Rice.

 

In 1991 the Packers hired Ron Wolf as General Manager and Mike Holmgren as their head coach, Sharpe finally had architects who knew how to lead competitive teams.

 

 

Photo Credit: Bob Fox

Most NFL scouts and general managers had Rice and Sharpe as the Top 2 wide receivers. Yes, Michael Irvin, Herman Moore, Andre Rison, Andre Reed, and Cris Carter played in that same era, but Sharpe was as dominant as any player during that time. During his first 7 years, Sharpe’s numbers compared favorably to the other elite or Hall of Fame wide receivers, all of whom were not the “only weapon” in their teams like Sharpe was.

  • Sterling Sharpe: 595 receptions, 8,134 yards, and 65 touchdowns
  • Jerry Rice: 526 receptions, 9,072 yards, and 93 touchdowns
  • Terrell Ownes: 512 receptions, 7,470 yards, and 72 touchdowns
  • Randy Moss: 574 receptions, 9,142 yards, and 90 touchdowns
  • Calvin Johnson: 572 receptions, 9,328 yards, and 66 touchdowns
  • Antonio Brown: 632 receptions, 8,377 yards, and 50 touchdowns
  • Julio Jones: 497 receptions, 9,054 yards, and 43 touchdowns

*NOTE: Cris Carter and Michael Irvin were left off the list as they didn’t compare favorably on this list due to getting a late start to their career

 

 

In 1992, Sharpe and the new quarterback, a young Brett Favre, teamed up to become one of the top passing tandems in the league. In the final game of that season, Sharpe and Favre hooked up for Sharpe’s 107th reception of the season, which broke the NFL’s single-season receptions record, set by Art Monk in 1984. That season, Sharpe became one of only six players in NFL history to win the outright Triple Crownat the receiver position: leading the league in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions.

In the 1993 NFL season, Sterling Sharpe subsequently broke his own record, with 112 receptions; this also made him the first player in NFL history to have consecutive seasons catching more than 100 passes. On October 24, 1993, Sharpe became the second Packer in team history to catch four touchdown passes in one game since Don Hutson in 1945.

At the end of the 1994 regular season, Sterling Sharpe suffered a neck injury against the Atlanta Falcons, which subsequently ended his playing career. In what was his final season, he finished the season with 94 receptions, 1,119 yards, and a league-leading 18 touchdowns. The 18 touchdown receptions Sharpe hauled in were the second-most in league history at the time, behind Jerry Rice’s 22 in 1987.

During his career, Sharpe was elected to the Pro Bowl five times (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1994), a 3× First-team All-Pro (1989, 1992, 1993), 3× NFL receptions leader (1989, 1992, 1993), 2× NFL receiving touchdowns leader (1992, 1994), and led NFL in receiving yards (1992). He was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2002.

 

Other players like Gayle Sayers and Terrell Davis, who had their career shortened due to injury are Hall of Famers, why isn’t Sterling Sharpe?

 

While everyone knows Sterling’s younger brother, 3x Super Bowl Champion Shannon Sharpe is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. How many remember what Shannon said during his induction speech? Shannon asked the members of the Hall of Fame selection committee to consider his brother since “I am the only player of 267 men who’s walked through this building to my left, that can honestly say this, I’m the only pro football player that’s in the Hall of Fame, and I’m the second-best player in my own family.” 

During those seven years, there wasn’t a more dominant wide receiver considering everything and taking the emotion and fandom out of it. There wasn’t a more dynamic, power receiver with the ball in his hands after the catch. He was a nightmare to cover for corners, according to NFL Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest corner of All-Time, Deion Sanders.

“The guy that should be in the Hall of Fame, who is one of the most physical, one of the best route runners, one of the best-receiving guys that I’ve ever played against was Sterling Sharpe,” Sanders said on an NFL Network’s  Rich Eisen”Let me tell you something, man, you went up there to bump him, he was going to take your facemask off and your shoulder pads off. And if you backed off and he caught the ball, how you going to make the tackle?”

Sharpe’s 65 career touchdowns are as many as Hall of Famer Michael Irvin despite playing five fewer years. During the same years playing in the NFL together, Sharpe’s numbers were definitively better than the future Hall of Famer’s and with less talent around him during the majority of those years:

Sterling Sharpe: 595/8,134/65

Michael Irvin: 416/6,935/40

 

Photo Credit: Bob Fox

I know fans will make the case for Tom Flores, Cliff Branch, LeRoy Butler, and others. I especially think those three SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame, but for me personally, I believe Sharpe needs to be in. While he didn’t compile numbers playing beyond his ability or doesn’t have Super Bowl wins under his belt, he was one of the most dominant players in the NFL, during a time when passing the ball wasn’t like it is today, and defensive backs didn’t get called for penalties for blowing on wide receivers the wrong way.

Admittedly, I am biased. Sterling Sharpe was my favorite player growing up, which made me want to play wide receiver myself, and he remains my favorite player. To see one of the greats NOT be in with his contemporaries when he earned it on the field, it upsets me. His numbers speak for themselves; his contemporaries will all tell you or anyone that he is more than deserving of entering the NFL’s most sacred ground.

It is time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to elect Sterling Sharpe. If the reason for his exclusion is because of the way he treated the local media, then the Hall of Fame needs to consider he didn’t like dealing with them after he felt they unjustly criticized him after his rookie year. He did speak to them when required but didn’t go out of his way for them. Sharpe did plenty of national interviews and eventually became a member of the media covering the NFL for ESPN and the NFL Network.

Those media people need to get over themselves and realize it isn’t about them, it’s about what he accomplished on the field. There are plenty of athletes that WE COVER that have been a pain in the ass to deal with. That is our job, and his job was to beat defenses and score touchdowns. He did that and dealt with the media when needed. Take your feelings out of it and watch the tape, that speaks volumes, and makes the case for him in itself.

Sterling Sharpe     Sterling Sharpe     Sterling Sharpe     Sterling Sharpe     Sterling Sharpe     Sterling Sharpe   Sterling Sharpe   

WWJD      WWJD     WWJD      WWJD     WWJD      WWJD     WWJD      WWJD     WWJD      WWJD     WWJD      WWJD

-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

 

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*Disclaimer: We at Franchise Media Sports do not support any of Joe’s views. We also cannot stop him from making them, he is our co-founder and writes what he wants. FSM is comprised of a group of non-biased sports professionals who report sports news without emotional attachment, except for Joe when he writes or talks about Sterling Sharpe, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Eric Davis. These are the times when he is completely ridiculous and unreasonable. Please comment and let him know that we could care less if Sterling Sharpe gets into the Hall of Fame because we don’t like Sterling Sharpe. Sterling Sharpe played for the Green Bay Packers and we hate them.

 

Thank you!

 

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