Shannon Sharpe: “I have been thinking about the speech for 42 years”

February 8, 2011 – 9:30 am by Chris Fedor

Shannon Sharpe missed out on the Hall-of-Fame last year, his first time on the ballot, but after a tremendous career in Denver and Baltimore, Sharpe’s on-field accomplishments were recognized this year and he got the “hall call” on Saturday. It’s a well-deserved honor for the one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Sharpe is a three-time Super Bowl winner, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler, he was one of John Elway’s go-to targets, he is the second leading receiving tight end in the history of the game, and now he can add Hall-Of-Famer to his impressive NFL resume.

Shannon Sharpe joined 104.3 the Fan in Denver on the Drive to talk about what how tough it was for him to await the Hall-Of-Fame announcement on Saturday, how much his brother helped him out when he was growing up, what he was most proud of during his time in Denver, and whether or not he has mentally prepared his Hall-Of-Fame speech.

How tough it was waiting for Saturday’s announcement:

“Actually the first year for me was harder than the second year. What made the first year for me easier to get over was because Rod (Woodson), one of my best friends, he had gotten in. I was more excited for him than I was disappointed that I didn’t get in. First of all, Jerry (Rice) and Emmitt (Smith). No skill position unless that running back rushed for 25,000 yards and that receiver had 2,000 catches, no skill position was going in with Jerry and Emmitt. I felt this was one of my better shots since I didn’t get in the first year. I was like okay. The thing for me, the first year my brother and my agent were in the room with me and last year I was working with all the guys at CBS, so this year I was in the room by myself. I said I don’t want to be by anybody and I just wanted to be by myself so if something happened I was going to be the one that tore the room up.”

On how much of an influence his brother, Sterling, was to his development as a person:

“He’s three years older than I am, but when we we’re growing up, I wanted to be just like my brother. Everywhere he went I wanted to go, everything he did I tried to do, and he had a girlfriend before I did so I wanted to tag along. Sometimes I could and sometimes it was like nah, you can’t go this time around. He just talked to me, yeah he was my brother, but he talked to me more like a father. My father died at the age of 39 so I was very, very young when my father passed and my brother really assumed the role of the dominant male figure in my life. He was so positive. He was in college and every time I had a basketball game or track meet that he could get back for, he was there rooting me on. When I was in college and his season was over in the National Football League he would come to Savannah State and he would see how hard I was working. He was like you can play at the next level, believe you can, you don’t have to play at a big school, and if you’re good enough they will find you. It just hurt me so bad when he was injured and wouldn’t be able to play anymore in the National Football League. That’s why I said what I said. I was like look I don’t want anyone in this room to take this the wrong way, but if I could switch positions with my brother and have him sitting in this seat and knowing that come August 5th I was going to be the guy that was going to tell how he got to this point I would gladly switch positions with him. We’re still best friends and he’s so excited that he’s going to be my presenter. That’s what he kept saying ‘my baby brother is in the Pro Football Hall-Of-Fame.”

On his greatest accomplishment in Denver:

“I think winning the Super Bowl, but I don’t know if I don’t make the catch in Pittsburgh and John doesn’t have the confidence to come to me in the Pittsburgh game I’m not so sure that first Super Bowl would even happen. My proudest thing is to get an opportunity to play and have number seven develop the confidence in me that no matter what the situation was he can come to me and know that I could make the play for him. It takes something, when you’re not a first round draft pick and you’re probably the seventh or eighth receiver on the depth chart, to build the confidence in that guy to someday know that he’s going to be in the Hall-Of-Fame and he has confidence in a seventh round draft and can say you know what on third and four or fourth and five with money on the line I’m going to give the ball to number 84. The Super Bowl is all about the team, but when number seven had confidence in me, when I broke the huddle and he looked at me and winked, if you play professional sports or team sports, you play for two things. You play for respect and you play for trust. You want your peers and teammates to respect you, but you want the coaching staff and players on the team to trust you. Nothing like that trust that number seven had in me.”

Whether or not he has thought about his induction speech:

“I have. The thing is, I have been thinking about the speech for 42 years. The thing is with something like this there are moments and people in your life that make it very, very easy and the thing is when people are like ‘when you speak do you ever write it down?’ This will be the first time that I actually write something down that I talk about because when you write it down it’s too well-rehearsed and I want it to be heartfelt. The only reason I’m going to write it down this time is because I want to make sure that 25 years from now when people hear this speech that I make sure I didn’t leave anybody out. They want you to be between eight and twelve minutes. Well I can talk for an hour about my grandmother alone. But I’m gonna have to throw Mike Shanahan in there, I’m gonna have to mention Dan Reeves, I’m gonna have to talk about my high school coach William Hall, I’m gonna have to talk about my sister, my kids, the guys I played with that helped me get to here, but I want to make sure I do my grandmother justice. Most of the people that will listen to my voice in that stadium or watching me on television will have never seen my grandmother, but when I’m done they will know who she is and they will know why I am who I am.”

Listen to Shannon Sharpe on 104.3 the Fan in Denver here

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