Those first two years of rejection must make this year especially sweet for Shannon Sharpe, who is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The former Denver Broncos tight end is one of seven inductees this year. The others are: DE Richard Dent, RB Marshall Faulk, LB Chris Hanburger, LB Les Richter, NFL Films Founder Ed Sabol and CB Deion Sanders.
There's likely to be debate about who headlines this class, as Faulk, Sanders and Sharpe all have a case. Faulk at one time was the most feared offensive player in the game for his ability to run with and catch the ball. Sanders was a shutdown corner in every sense of the term. Sharpe is arguably the best tight end to ever play the game.
Why did Sharpe make it in? At the time of his retirement in 2003, Sharpe led all tight ends in career receptions (815), yards (10,060) and touchdowns (62). Tony Gonzalez has since surpassed him in all three categories, but that doesn't diminish that accomplishment. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, including seven straight from 1992-1998 with the Broncos. He also won three Super Bowl rings, two with the Broncos and one with the Baltimore Ravens. He was a four-time First-Team All-Pro (complete stats can be found here).
Shannon chose his brother Sterling to present him on Saturday, but they already had a brotherly moment on Friday when Shannon received his gold jacket. With the unveiling of his bronze bust, Shannon will become one of the immortal NFL players, forever known as a Hall of Famer. His speech is expected to take up all of the allotted 10 minutes and will concentrate on his grandmother, Mary Porter, who raised he grandchildren.
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