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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Shannon Sharpe's greatest challenge

By Bill Williamson

Shannon Sharpe is a man made from overcoming challenges.

Sharpe
Sharpe
He overcame growing up poor in rural Georgia. He overcame the football stigma of going to a small school. He overcame being a late-round draft pick. He overcame the transition from wide receiver to tight end.

But for the loquacious Sharpe, his greatest challenge will come on the day he is honored for conquering all of his obstacles. Somehow, Sharpe is supposed to keep his induction speech in the 8-10 minute range.

It usually takes Sharpe 10 minutes to say ‘hello.”

“It’s not going to be easy,” the former Denver Broncos star said recently. “It’s going to be very difficult.”

Sharpe’s speech will, no doubt, be one of the highlights of Saturday night’s enshrinement. Sharpe has been known for his gift of gab for his entire life. He was one of the NFL’s most famous trash talkers and he now makes a living as a studio host for CBS.

His speech could go on for days. But Sharpe said he knows the time constraints of live television will cause him to keep his speech snappy.

“That is the biggest challenge,” Sharpe said. “That’s what I’ve worked on; keeping it short as possible.”

Sharpe said he believes he will keep the speech in the 10-minute range. He said the majority of the speech will center on his grandmother, Mary Porter. She died July 6 at the age of 89. She raised Sharpe and his two siblings. Sharpe said the speech will be particularly emotional because he will be enshrined exactly a month after her death.

“Most of it will be about her,” Sharpe said. “She deserves that. Even before she passed, it was going to be about her.”

Still, Sharpe said he is determined to thank several key people in his life during the speech.

“I have to do that,” Sharpe said. “The thing is, everything I’m going to say I have already said to these people. They’ve heard it. Now, it’s time for the world to hear what these people mean to me.”

Sharpe said he sought help from a professional speech writer to transition his thoughts and to keep it as tight as possible.

“Really, the speech wrote itself,” Sharpe said. “I’m ready, but I just have to focus on keeping it short. But I have a lot of years to get in there before I leave that podium.”