Another Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced on Saturday night Canton, so it’s time for my annual early August rant. I wrote last year about LeRoy Butler not getting the respect he deserves from the voters. Well, thanks to former Bronco Terrell Davis’ induction, this year’s post will be about Sterling Sharpe.
The argument against putting Sharpe in the Hall of Fame has always been the brevity of his career. Due to a neck injury, the wide receiver from South Carolina was forced to retire after only seven seasons. But he sure packed a lot of greatness into those seven seasons. Sharpe caught 595 passes for 8,134 yards and 65 touchdowns in 112 games. And he played 57% of those games with Randy Wright and Don Majkowski throwing him the ball.
Meanwhile, Davis also played only seven seasons – three of which were nondescript. And while he was tremendous from 1995 to 1998 (6,413 yards, 56 TDs, NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP), it was still only four seasons. And not to diminish Davis’ accomplishments, but he had the benefit of having the great John Elway at quarterback and playing in a system that would later turn journeymen Olandis Gary (1,159 yards in 1999), Mike Anderson (1,487 yards in 2000) and Reuben Droughns (1,240 yards in 2004) into stars.
Look, my issue isn’t with Davis being in the Hall of Fame; it’s with Sharpe not being in the Hall of Fame. The longevity argument no longer applies. And truth be told, there’s a strong argument that could’ve be made even before last night. Sharpe was simply a better player than many of his contemporaries already in Canton.
Andre Reed, Art Monk, Cris Carter and Tim Brown were fine wide receivers, but the only thing they were better than Sharpe at was staying healthy. To make an analogy to another sport, those four guys were like pitcher Don Sutton. He was very good but not great for a long time. Meanwhile, Sharpe was more similar to Sandy Koufax. He was great for a short time. And in my opinion, there needs to be a place for both in the Hall of Fame.
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