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Saturday, February 5, 2011
Shannon Sharpe's HOF wait is over

By Bill Williamson

Shannon Sharpe is going to Canton two years too late.

Kudos to the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters who ended Sharpe's surprising wait on his third year of eligibility. Sharpe will truly be a deserving member of the Hall of Fame.

Shannon Sharpe
Shannon Sharpe ended his career with 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns.
I remember being shocked two years ago when Sharpe didn’t get elected on his first try. I had the same feeling last year when Sharpe was blocked from Canton. This year, the voters got it right.

Sharpe was a truly special player. He made the Denver Broncos unique. He made the team’s offense in the 1990s special. He changed the way the tight end was viewed in the NFL. Drafted out of tiny Savannah State in 1990 as a raw, lanky receiver, Sharpe transformed into an elite tight end and paved the way for the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

Sharpe was a great receiver at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. He made linebackers and safeties look silly in coverage. He was a pumped-up receiver at tight end. It’s ironic that it was his ability as a receiver that kept Sharpe out of the Hall of Fame for two years. Sharpe was considered by many voters as a receiver and there has been a log jam (former Raiders’ receiver Tim Brown was not elected Saturday for the second straight season because of the glut at the position) of worthy receivers waiting to get in.

But Sharpe was more than simply a receiver. Former Denver quarterback John Elway said Sharpe was an underrated blocker and he was a key part of the team’s famed zone-blocking scheme that helped pave the way to Super Bowl titles after the 1997 and ’98 seasons.

What made Sharpe special was his ability to stretch the field as a big receiver. He had terrific hands and he was incredibly strong, so he was a nightmare for defenses to prepare against. Before Gonzalez broke his records, Sharpe widely considered to be the NFL’s best-ever tight end. Elway said this week that he still thinks Sharpe was the best tight end to play the game.

Sharpe’s election continues a nice Hall of Fame run for Denver. Elway was the team’s first Hall of Fame enshrinee in 2004. Left tackle Gary Zimmerman was elected in 2008 and running back Floyd Little was elected last year.

Now, Sharpe joins his former teammates Elway and Zimmerman where they all belong.