Sterling Sharpe deserves to be in Canton : Packers Insider

Sterling Sharpe deserves to be in Canton

May 31, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor

~As current Packer fans still sulk (rightly so) about Nick Collins‘ neck injury taking him away from a potential Hall of Fame career, right at the prime of his game, it’s time to look back at a player who clearly was playing at a Hall of Fame level for his whole career as a Packer.

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) leaps over Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins (36) as Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and cornerback Charles Woodson (21) lay on the turf Sunday, September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Collins was injured on the play, ending his career just as he was entering his prime. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT)

Sterling Sharpe played seven seasons in the NFL, starting every game for the Green Bay Packers.

A rookie in 1988, he was part of the great 1988 draft class that had him, Michael Irvin, and Tim Brown all taken in the top 10 of the draft.

In Sharpe’s seven seasons, he had 595 catches, 8,134 yards, 65 TD’s.

He played with some subpar QB’s in those first four seasons, with the young gun-slinging Brett Favre his quarterback the last 2 3/4 seasons.

Sharpe suffered a career-ending neck injury at the end of the 1994 season. He was right there neck & neck with Jerry Rice at that time, and I still remember being on the radio airwaves coast to coast debating that topic with Bobby Kemp. It was a close call. Just look at the production, and who each had as their QB in their career, which obviously is a fair factor.

Remember the Packers just got Reggie White, and were climbing to the top under Mike Holmgren, when Sterling was shut down after that 1994 season.

In those same 7 years that Sterling put up the above numbers, Irvin put up:
416 catches, 6,935 yards, 40 TD’s.

Tim Brown: (I gave Brown an extra year, 1995, because he missed almost all of his 2nd season)
405 catches, 5,076 yards, 46 TD’s.

Those WR’s were all good, clearly, by the end of their seventh seasons (Brown an 8th season).
Sterling Sharpe was great.

He was on pace for Canton for sure, as his numbers indicate. Plus, he had Favre there just emerging as a superstar.

His second season, he led the league with 90 receptions, the first Packer to do so since Don Hutson in 1945, and he broke Hutson’s records for receptions and receiving yards in a season.

A few years later, in 1992, Sharpe and the new quarterback, Brett Favre, teamed up to become the top passing tandem in the league. In the final game of that season he and Favre hooked up for Sharpe’s 107th reception of the season which broke the NFL’s single-season receptions record.

That season, Sharpe became one of only seven players in NFL history to win the “Triple Crown” at the receiver position: leading the league in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions. Jerry Rice also did this once, in 1990.

In the 1993 season Sharpe subsequently broke his own record, with 112 receptions; this also made him the first player to have consecutive seasons catching more than 100 passes. In 1994, his 18 touchdown receptions were the second most in league history at the time, behind Jerry Rice’s 22 in 1987. Sterling was only getting better, as was his young quarterback, and the overall team. Glory was on the way. Sharpe had already come up with some playoff heroics with a last-second game-winning long touchdown pass to win at Barry Sanders’ Lions team, in the loud Silverdome.

However, Sharpe’s reign as an All-Pro wide receiver was cut short by a neck injury suffered during the 1994 season, ending a career in which he was named an All-Pro five times (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1994).

Then he had the neck injury, similar to the one Irvin had almost six years later.
Flip-flop those injury dates, and the Cowboys don’t win three Super Bowls from 1993-95 and the Packers win more than the 96 Super Bowl. Remember, it was those Cowboys who ended the Packers playoff march all three seasons there. Irvin’s glory came in the Super Bowls. Had he gotten the neck problem when Sharpe did, and not Sterling, it could very well have been Sharpe who was in the spotlight of a bunch of Super Bowls.

In his final three seasons, the three with the young, emerging Favre, Sharpe averaged 105 catches, 1285 yards, and 14 touchdowns.

Since he was unable to continue playing, and was not on the Packers team that won the Super Bowl in 1996, his brother Shannon Sharpe gave him the first of the three Super Bowl rings he has won.

Shannon Sharpe was right about something. He wasn't even the best of his siblings.

Later, when Shannon, not Sterling, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton in 2011, Shannon made sure the world knew how great Sterling was. He said:

My big brother, Sterling, I’m the only player of 267 men that’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 the second best player in my own family.

If fate had dealt you a different hand, there is no question, no question in my mind we would have been the first brothers to be elected to the Hall of Fame. 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, and the most humblest way I know how, is that the next time you go into that room or you start making a list, look at Sterling Sharpe’s accomplishments.

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. That’s all I ask. I don’t say, hey, just do that. The next time you go in that room, you think about Sterling Sharpe’s numbers for seven years. That’s all I ask.

Sterling, you are my hero, my father figure, my role model. You taught me everything I know about sports and a lot about life. I never once lived in your shadow. I embraced it.

Shannon Sharpe was most definitely not the best Sharpe in the NFL those seven years. In fact, I remember going to the game in about 1993 in Green Bay on a TNT Primetime game between Elway and Shannon’s Broncos against Sterling and Favre’s Packers. Sterling was the man, Shannon was the kid brother. But it was fun.

In the end, as Shannon said, it was bad fat that stopped Sterling’s assault on the record books, but in my opinion, what he did for seven years was pure greatness, and that’s what the Hall of Fame should be about, greatness, not longevity.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe (84) catches a six-yard touchdown pass--one of three TDs Sharpe had for the game--during a 34-19 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 24, 1994, at Houlihan's Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)

Shannon was right, Sterling Sharpe should be in the Hall of Fame.


9 Responses to “Sterling Sharpe deserves to be in Canton”
  1. Dave Hamburger says:

    Ha. Sterling Sharpe is not a Hall of Fame WR. Not even close. He was very good but not good enough and not for long enough. Before he gets in, there are quite a few WR that deserve a spot much more than him. Such as (not all eligible yet): Andre Reed, Gary Clark, Marvin Harrison, Tim Brown, Mark Clayton, Rod Smith, Jimmy Smith, Hines Ward, Randy Moss. Terrell Owens. After AT LEAST each of those Wide Receivers are inducted (which will not happen), Sterling Sharpe can be inducted (which will NEVER happen – because he’s not a legit candidate). If Sterling was never injured, maybe. But unfortunately his career was shortened, so his legacy is that he was good. Just good. Fact.

  2. Gabe Christopher says:

    Dave Hamburger, you have no idea what you’e talking about. There are plenty of players that made it into the HOF playing the same amount of time. Gayle Sayers played 6 seasons until a career ending knee injury. His stats and dominance got him in. Sterling was a 5 TIME ALL PRO, 5 TIME PRO BOWLER, Led the NFL in Receptions 3 times, Led the NFL in TDs twice, and a GB Packer Hall of Famer. Sharpe was one of only seven players in NFL history to win the “Triple Crown” at the receiver position: leading the league in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions. He wasn’t just good for his time, he was dominant.

  3. Dave Hamburger says:

    Gabe Christopher, YOU are the one who has no idea what he is talking about. Sterling Sharpe absolutely does not belong in the Hall of Fame. That’s why it’s not even a topic of discussion, except amongst delusional Packers fans.

    Leading the NFL in TDs or receptions means nothing. This year the league leader in receptions is Pierre Garcon from Washington. So all he needs is two more years like this and he’s a Hall of Famer, right? LOL

    Leading the NFL in TD receptions also means nothing. This year Jimmy Graham led the league and is a TE. The leading WR is Demaryius Thomas. So if they each have one more year like this, next stop: Canton! Right? LOL

    Thank you for capitalizing his Pro Bowl and All Pro selections. I really felt the emphasis. The capitalization made these even more important than they really are (which is not important at all). Pro Bowl and All Pro selections mean absolutely nothing at all. Everyone knows that. That’s why most players chosen to the Pro Bowl elect to not play. All Pro selection is a group of idiot writers picking their favorite players. Once a player is selected twice, they’re automatically a lock from there out based on name recognition alone. It’s a joke.

    Sterling Sharpe was good. Not great. Just good. He was not dominant. It’s a fact. Heck, just in the NFL today, there are tons of WRs better than him. Tons. Just off the top of my head… AJ Green, Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Demaryius Thomas. That’s just a list off the top of my head. If Sterling Sharpe played today he would NOT be mentioned among that group of WRs. He might be in the second-tier of WRs though. We all know that second=tier WRs (like Sterling Sharpe was) are not Hall of Famers.

    Sterling Sharpe has actually been more successful off the field as an analyst than he was on the field as a player.

    Sterling Sharpe has 0% chance of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. ZERO. Z-E-R-O. Yes. That is a fact. But hey, at least he made the Packers Hall of Fame, right? He can be a legend in “Title Town”… do they still call Green Bay that? Even though they have 4 Super Bowls, behind Dallas and San Fran’s 5 and Pittsburgh’s 6?? The pre-Super Bowl era championships don’t count. Everyone knows that. But that’s another discussion.

    In conclusion, is Sterling Sharpe a Hall of Famer? No. Should he be considered? No. Will he ever be elected? No.

  4. Cedric Shegog says:


    I’m not a Packer fan but, I know greatness when i see it and Sterling Sharpe was great and should be in the HOF! I also agree with the fact that, Dave does not know what he’s talking about nor would he know greatness if it slapped him in the face!!!

  5. Shawn says:

    He will get in many years down the line when the veterans committee pushes him in. The writers want more stats and more years played. (Art Monk got in to the hall of fame despite never being as feared or as dominant as Sterling Sharpe.)

    But the people he played against will want him in because they know the truth.

  6. Cedric Shegog says:

    Actually, after re-thinking it, I want to backtrack on my previous comments. Here is my new opinion: Sterling Sharpe in the Hall of Fame? Is this serious? It’s mind-boggling that some one took the time to write an article about this. He’s not worthy of consideration. End of discussion.

    Also, why don’t the Packers play in a dome? They would probably win more games if they were warm instead of cold, you know. “Hey lets go play outside in snow and cold weather…” ….dummies.

  7. Sarah deboer says:

    I’ve been honored to meet Sterling and being true Canadian (who know hockey not football), it was amazing to read this article! Go Sterling!! ALL the best in however you continue to contribute to the NFL.

  8. Shawn says:

    Actually, I retract my statement. I can’t see how Sterling will ever get in (or even be considered). No veterans committee will “push” him in. No one will elect him in. Being “feared” doesn’t make a player Hall of Fame worthy and being a packer fan, we all think he was better than he actually was. If Sterling is a Hall of Famer, then each NFL team has at least 2 Hall of Fame wide receives on their roster right now. He was good, but not that good.

    I like Cedric’s point about the dome. Can you imagine how cool that would be on Lambeau? The “LAMBEAU DOME”!! The team should look into it. Maybe some rich older player will donate a roof or something. Like Bart Starr or Brett Favre. Just a guess.

  9. Lambeau Dome Wanter says:

    Lambeau definitely needs a dome. Sterling would have caught 200+ balls a season if there was a dome. I hope Starling and Donald Driver are both elected in the same class. Or wait a little and be elected with Greg Jennings and Jordy too! If there was a dome can you imagine what James Jones would do now? AR12 would be throwing for 6000+ yards and 70+ TDs.

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