By Douglas Etten
His words spoke truth.
His emotions dictated a humble sincerity that refreshed a football world fed-up with arrogance, greed and self-centered accomplishments amidst negotiations between union representatives and owners.
He said he’s the only football player enshrined in Canton, who’s the second-best football player in his own family.
With that sentence, Shannon Sharpe had tears falling down the face of Packers’ great Sterling Sharpe, who tried holding back the emotions as he watched his younger brother pass through the doors into “the fraternity of franternities.”
Sterling watched not only his brother, but his best friend, break into football glory Saturday and with that began the speculation as to whether or not his brief, but distinguished, career deserves the only brother tandem to ever be elected.
Sterling introduced Shannon, then sat closely behind him as the former Broncos and Ravens tight-end delivered what sportswriters everywhere are calling one of the best induction addresses in recent history.
Sharpe revealed his childhood in Georgia. He talked about himself, Sterling and their older sister who were abandoned by their mother after birth and raised by their late grandmother in a one-bedroom house not even able to keep rainwater off the bedroom sheets at night.
Shannon made mention of a number of things that brought him through life to where he is today.
“I remember holding those two brown grocery bags in my arms. Inside of them were all my belongings. I remember I was ready to head out the door when I looked into my grandmother’s bedroom and saw her laying on her bed. I guess she figured she’d already implanted in me everything she needed to over 18 years that a 10-minute’s speech wasn’t going to do much good.”
He also thanked his older brother.
“All I ever wanted to do was be like you,” Shannon said, looking back over his right shoulder and the emotions.
Shannon made mention of Sterling’s accomplishments, asking the Hall selection committee to simply look at what his brother did in just seven seasons as an NFL receiver.
Sharpe wasn’t just good, he was dominant in his time with the Green and Gold — the only team Sterling ever put pads on for.
He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who in 1992, in the final game of the regular season, hooked up with Brett Favre for his 107th reception, breaking the NFL’s single-season receptions record set by Art Monk in 1984.
That season, Sharpe became one of only seven players in NFL history to win the “Triple Crown” at the receiver position: leading the league in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions.
The now-NFL analyst was humbled to be the one who presented his brother at the ceremonies in Canton.
“He is the only guy in pro football that I know, other than myself, exactly what he went through to get to this point,” Sterling said. “My career was great and I enjoyed every minute of it, but inducting Shannon — being the voice in front of his — is an honor.”
Does Sterling belong in the hall of fame or not might not be answered for some years now. But for most, the induction of Shannon was two-fold, and the Sharpe family acted as such.