Can We Put Sterling Sharpe in the Hall of Fame Now?
We’re not terribly fond of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s voting process. It’s a bunch of old timers sitting around in room debating the merits of a player, often for hours at a time.
Yes, they’re sportswriters, but their totally arbitrary points of view then determine whether a guy gets into the Hall or not. We have long heard that grudges and a sort of hierarchy system play roles in determining who goes in and when.
To the latter point, Player A has to get in before Player B gets in. Or Player C and D can’t go in at the same time because Player C was a little better.
To the former point, receiver Terrell Owens was excluded from the Hall for the second year in a row. I don’t care what you think about Owens, he is statistically one of the greatest receivers ever and belongs in the Hall of Fame. Why is he not in the Hall of Fame yet? Probably for the simple reason that he’s a douche and no one likes him.
Which brings me back to the hierarchy system that is obviously employed here. We have long harped on former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler’s strong and legitimate case for induction. Butler never makes the final group and then we hear things like, well, these other safeties have to make it in first and then maybe Butler will get in.
That’s bullcrap. Is the guy a Hall of Famer or is he not a Hall of Famer?
Another guy who we have long been making a case for is former Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe. The good news for Sharpe might just end up being this: former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis will be part of the 2017 class of inductees.
Both players have eerily similar careers. They both dominated their position for a short period of time, but their careers were cut short due to injury.
Davis ran for 7,607 yards and 60 touchdowns in his career. He surpassed 1,000 yards rushing four times, including an NFL leading 2,008 yards in 1998, when he won the league’s MVP. Davis made three Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro three times.
Davis was very likely the best running back in the game from 1996-98. Injuries limited him from 1999-2001, so Davis was really only effective for four seasons before retiring.
Sharpe finished his career with 595 receptions, 8,134 yards and 65 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receptions three times (89, 92, 93). He led the NFL with 1,461 receiving yards in 1992 and in touchdown catches in 1992 (13) and 1994 (18). Sharpe was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All Pro.
Sharpe played at the same time as Jerry Rice, so we’re not going to say he was the best receiver in the game for his entire career. He was arguably the second best receiver at the time when the greatest receiver ever played. I would, however, argue that Sharpe was actually better than Rice during that 1992-93 stretch (although it’s close).
Sharpe hauled in 220 receptions (the first player to record back-to-back 100-catch seasons), for 2,735 yards and 24 touchdowns over that two-year span. Rice went for 182, 2,704 and 25. Rice was playing opposite John Taylor. The second-leading receiver on each of those Packers teams was tight end Jackie Harris.
Who was opposite Sharpe? Does the name Sanjay Beach ring any bells? To put it simply, what Sharpe was able to during that span without another serviceable NFL receiver on the field was amazing.
Sharpe’s career was cut short because of a neck injury after the 1994 season, a year in which he hauled in 18 touchdowns and caught 94 balls. Regardless of the Rice comparison, Sharpe was both dominant and one of the finest players in the game from the period of 1989-94.
To go back to Davis, the Broncos obviously had much more postseason success than Sharpe’s Packers teams. That’s surely a big part of why Davis is now in the Hall.
Should that preclude Sharpe?
No. As we’ve long said, Sterling Sharpe is a Hall of Famer.
Maybe now that they’ve inducted Davis, they can get around to giving Sharpe his due.