Sterling Sharpe: One of the best to ever play. He should be in the NFL Hall of Fame

Sterling Sharpe

Sterling Sharpe: One of the best to ever play. He should be in the NFL Hall of Fame
November 10
14:00 2021

I know the name Sterling Sharpe does not immediately pop into everyone’s head when the discussion of greatest wide receivers of all time comes up, but if you ask me, it should. A lot of younger football fans are enamored with the modern day wideouts and their numbers, but if you look at his numbers and his impact, Sharpe should be mentioned with the greats and should be a no-brainer for the hall of fame (HOF).

Sharpe played at a time when teams were not throwing the ball around like they are today, and the rules were not slanted toward the offensive players as they are currently. If not for a devastating neck injury that ended his career way too early, Sharpe would have been a first ballot hall of famer; no doubt about it.

For me, besides Jerry Rice, Sharpe was the best wide receiver during that era. There were other good receivers in the league at the time like Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Cris Carter, Art Monk, Michael Irvin, and others. But to me, Sharpe was better than all of them outside of Rice.

Sharpe was drafted out of South Carolina in the 1988 NFL draft to the Green Bay Packers. He immediately made his presence felt as a rookie.  He had 55 catches for 791 yards and a touchdown. Those were pretty good numbers for a rookie receiver in the NFL at that time.

Throughout his seven-year career, Sharpe was a five-time pro bowler and an All-Pro three times. In his last season, he had an astonishing 18 touchdowns. He even led the league in receptions, touchdowns and yards in 1992, making him the sixth player in league history to accomplish the “triple crown” of receiving at that point. Yes, I know he played with Brett Favre for the last three years of his career, but he did make two pro bowls prior to Favre’s arrival.

Sharpe was the do-it-all type of receiver. He was fast enough to run deep routes, quick enough to get separation out of breaks, tough enough to go over the middle, and arguably had the best hands in the league. I know he only played for seven years, but if you put his seven years up against any hall of fame receiver’s best seven years, it would rank among the best.

What frustrates me the most is that his 20 years of eligibility as a modern-era candidate expired this year when he wasn’t among the 130 on the preliminary list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021. I am not sure how he has never been a semifinalist or finalist for the HOF. To be honest, that is a total slap in the face of Sharpe and the things he accomplished in his career.  

I am not the only one who feels Sharpe has been slighted. Former Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf, who was elected into the HOF in 2015, spoke about Sharpe on the “Eye Test for Two” podcast.

“I think what made him so special was he was really tough and really dedicated to the game in his way,” Wolf said. “He was not intimidated by anything – or anybody – or any situation. He’s a perfect football player. I don’t know what else to add to that.

“He could do everything you would want a receiver to do. He would go anywhere to catch a ball. He would go in and catch it,  he would go out and catch it. He would run hooks, run outs, run ups. He was just an exceptional football player.”

Players like Gayle Sayers and Terrell Davis had their careers shortened because of injury, yet they have made it into the HOF. I would definitely say that Sharpe is on par with those two. I can’t quite comprehend why those players are in and Sharpe isn’t. Wolf also touched on this topic during the interview as well.

“What they need to know is that you have to consider who he played for,” he said. “He played for a lousy Green Bay Packers’ team until Mike Holmgren and I got there and kind of changed the fortunes. But he’s the reason for the change.

“In 1992, with that collection of players that we had, Mike Holmgren and his staff were able to go 9-7 and have a winning record – which was remarkable. But the real reason for that was Brett Favre and Sterling Sharpe.

“I’m sure every defensive coordinator that got ready to play the Packers said, ‘All we have to do is take Sharpe away and we’ll beat them.’ Well, you know what? They never took him away. He led the league in receptions.

“He was just a tremendous football player. Hard to believe that he was as good as he was, considering what he had around him as a team.”

Sharpe is the ultimate “what if” for me. The guy could literally do it all at the position. My only hope now is that the veterans committee does the right thing by voting Sharpe into the HOF, because if that does not happen, he will be the biggest snub to never get in.

If he was playing in today’s game, he would be the best in the league right now, BAR NONE.  Don’t debate me.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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