During a group interview session Friday, Chris Hanburger, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe sat 10 feet apart from each other in front of groups of reporters and television cameras. Hanburger’s camera light went off first, then Faulk’s, then Sanders’. Just like the sky is blue and the ocean is wet, Shannon Shapre continued talking.
“Shannon, rap it up please,” a HOF worker told him.
If Shannon had it his way, he would have talked about football and family all day. For a guy like that, turning over two decades worth of football into a 12-minute speech is harder than a linebacker’s hit on a receiver coming across the middle of the field. His speech turned out to be about 26 minutes.
There’s a reason why Sharpe can talk so much. He’s got a story to tell, and a good one at that.
On paper, he wasn’t supposed to grow up to be the 267th member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He was raised by his grandmother who counted her blessings when it didn’t rain because she considered herself fortunate when she could sleep in a dry bed.
“She said, I want God to let it rain as hard as he possibly can, and I want him to let it rain all night long. She said, I want to wake up and not be wet,” Sharpe said after asking his grandmother what kind of house she wanted.
Sharpe was also drafted in the 7th round (192nd overall) of the 1990 draft out of Savannah State. That’s not quite the recipe for making a Hall of Fame player.
Sharpe explained why he defied the the odds and got to where he is today – on a stage in Canton wearing a gold jacket..
“I am here today for a lot of reasons. Some have everything to do with me. Some have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the kindness and patience of all the people that guided me through my life,” Sharpe said.
The part that has to do with him he credits to following the “Three D’s: Determination, dedication, and discipline. Three traits that translate in any generation and any job setting.”
The part that has to do with other people revolve around teachers, teammates, coaches, but most importantly family. Sharpe spoke of his grandmother and his brother, Packers receiver and Sharpe’s presenter, Sterling Sharpe.
“I’m the only player football player that’s in the Hall of Fame, and the second best player in my family,” Sharpe said referring to his brother.
After that statement, people dressed in orange and those dressed in other colors rose to their feet. This was the only standing ovation in the middle of a speech tonight.
Sharpe even made a humble plea for the Hall’s selection committee to consider Sterling for enshrinement.
“The 44 men and women that I thanked and congratulated earlier for giving me and bestowing this prestigious honor upon me, all I do is ask — all I can do is ask, is that the next time you go into that room or start making a list, look at Sterling Sharpe. For a seven-year period of the guy’s that are in the Hall of Fame at the receiver position, and the guys that have the potential to be in this building…The next time you go in that room, you think about Sterling Sharpe’s number for seven years. That’s all I ask.”
Sharpe kept the audience captivated. Stories of his childhood, his playing days, and his grandmother’s death showed us the side of a man who we didn’t really see because he was always shielded by a helmet.
“As my grandmother was laying in that casket on Saturday morning, I walked over to her and I asked her two things: I said, Granny, am I the man you thought I would be when you got on the train and you came to Chicago and got me at three months? And I stood there for about 20 seconds and I could see her smiling.”
You can rest assured that she’s still smiling, Shannon, along with the rest of Broncos Country.