Shannon Sharpe Attributes His HOF Work Ethic To His Grandmother and Brother, Downplays Not Mentioning Mike Shanahan In His SpeechAugust 9, 2011 – 6:15 am by Steven Cuce
If you didn’t get a chance to watch any of Shannon Sharpe’s Hall of Fame induction speech in Canton, Ohio last Saturday night I highly recommend that you do. The longtime Denver Broncos tight end was inducted into the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame and he delivered one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard outside of Michael Irvin’s, which tops the list for me. Sharpe has always been entertaining on CBS’s NFL Today Show, but his speech on Saturday topped anything that you have ever heard out of him before.
Shannon Sharpe’s rise to stardom is a story of family. Sharpe explains in the following interview with 104.3 The Fan in Denver of how he was raised by his grandmother and how his brother taught him how to be a man. Shannon went on to mention in his speech how he is the second best football player in his family giving a nod to his brother Sterling’s outstanding career. It was an emotional evening for the Sharpe family as Shannon eclipsed football immortality that very few players get to do in Canton. He made sure to let everyone know that it wasn’t the individual accomplishments that made this moment so special, but the people who he got to share it with. That is what really counts.
Shannon Sharpe joined 104.3 The Fan in Denver with The Drive to discuss the emotional rollercoaster over the past 48 hours before-and-after his Hall of Fame induction speech, his close relationship with his brother Sterling Sharpe, his legendary workouts when no one was watching that defined his Hall of Fame work ethic and the reason why he didn’t mention Mike Shanahan in his Hall of Fame induction speech.
I know it must have been some emotional rollercoaster over the past 48 hours. What has it been like?
“You know what, it has been. It was great that my family and you guys were able to come out and experience this and enjoy this with me because that’s what really made it special. Hopefully I conveyed that in my speech. If you noticed the only time I said Super Bowl in my speech I was making reference to Mr.Bowlen, Art Modell and the fans of those two great franchises and letting them know without them there could be no me being here today, but I just want to give thanks to the people who made it possible. I mean obviously if you are up on that stage you have a bust to your side and people know you were good. I didn’t really feel the need to talk about anything that I accomplished as an individual.”
Tell us a little bit about the relationship that you have with your brother Sterling. What is your relationship like?
“Well my grandfather died at a very early age and my brother took over the role as the dominant male figure in my life. He was there. He taught me everything I needed to know to become a man. You see guys I look at people when I was coming up and I still do to this day. I look at people in two ways. Either you’re advancing me or you’re holding me back. If you’re fans of me I want to be around you. I can talk to you. I got time for you. If you try to hold me back I’m going to keep on moving without you. See when people told me where I wasn’t going they couldn’t tell me that because they don’t where I had been. See Sterling Sharpe knows where I had been. He knew where I could go. If you noticed when he came out after he said ‘I give you Shannon Sharpe for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.’ When he came out gave me a hug, we were talking. If you notice I am nodding my head. He is nodding his head. He’s telling me ‘This is your time. Make Mary [Sharpe] proud. Do what you have always done.’ That was the only thing…you know what I thought I was going to be nervous and to think I really wasn’t. I was so at ease. I was so calm and it was just like I had been waiting for this moment my entire life and I said it before what made it so special was the people who were there to share it with me. Oh man it was great. I love…for my brother to be there and to present me and to put that jacket on me Friday night…man that’s an unbelievable feeling guys.”
Tell us about the legendary workouts you had when nobody was watching you after practice?
“Because the thing I was the only guy that Mike [Shanahan] didn’t let have to do the off-season program. My whole thing was if somebody had this kind of confidence in me to make sure that I don’t have to be here the least I could do…it was my grandmother. See as I said in the speech, I said people say you don’t know a man’s life unless you walk a mile into his shoes, but see if you walked a mile in my shoes it wouldn’t do me justice. See I was the only inductee on that stage that drank well water in 1988 every single day. I’m the only one. I’m the only on that stage of inductees that had raccoons and possums as a necessity. You don’t know what that does to you. You don’t know how that drives you. I drove to work every single day from the very first time that the Broncos said ‘Shannon Sharpe you are on this football team.’ I drove to work every single day saying I gotta give them a reason to keep me. I never went to meet the President because meeting the President meant I was going to miss a workout. I am not going to miss a workout. On 4th of July I was there. On Labor Day I was there. On Memorial Day I was there. There was no holiday for Shannon Sharpe.”
You didn’t mention Mike Shanahan in your Hall of Fame speech. Was Mike Shanahan advancing you or holding you back?
“I was already up there 26 minutes. You know what I am saying? Next thing you know it’s 40 minutes. Look I have a great relationship with Mike [Shanahan]. Did it start out like that? No. Because he perceived me a certain way. He let the persona overshadow the person. That bothered me, but as I got older as he got an opportunity to see…I think it took me leaving and going to Baltimore for Mike to finally have an appreciation of what I did and how hard I worked. When I came back and to this day Mike Shanahan and I have a great relationship. Look I didn’t mention my college coach. I forgot. I forgot my agent. Look the two people I knew who were going to be in there were my brother and my grandmother. I knew that 100%. So if I could say anything I like to thank my brother. I would like to thank my grandmother and sit back down. That would have been it, but look I don’t want people to think and I knew that was going to happen. I was talking to my girlfriend as I was driving. We were driving back home I was like there are some people that I forgot and I automatically said the fact that I didn’t mention Mike [Shanahan] people are going to think well Shannon Sharpe doesn’t like Mike. I won two Super Bowls under Mike. I became a much better tight end. I became a much more disciplined tight end. I paid more attention to detail under Mike, so don’t think because I didn’t mention his name…like I said I would have loved to have gone verbatim and mention all my offensive coordinators. I didn’t mention Gary Kubiak, but I texted Mike. I texted Gary. I texted Brian Pariani. I think that pieced with the way my speech went. I think pieced with the relationship I have with those guys, so I’ll let the naysayers and all the people that want to speculate on what my relationship is with the people I didn’t mention and that’s fine, but I know where I stand and they know where they stand.”
Listen to Shannon Sharpe on 104.3 The Fan in Denver here [Interview begins at the 38:45 mark in the podcast]