84 days to football: Sterling Sharpe

With 84 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day, Thursday, Sept. 4, when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks will focus on the the number that represents the number of days remaining … today it’s #84.

We highly recommend “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them,” by John Maxymuk. The book, which chronicles every Packers jersey number was published in 2003, so it may be a bit incomplete, but it provides a strong background of information about Packers players and their jersey numbers up to that point in time.

Yesterday, we focused on Hall of Famer  Max McGee.

imgres-2Today, we highlight a player who might have been the most dynamic and talented player on the field, but not very nice to the media covering the team – Sterling Sharpe.

If there was a better Packers player to wear #84, I’m not sure who it might be.

You see, there have been some really good players to have worn #84, including Carroll DaleBill Schroeder, Javon Walker and Steve Odom.

Today we focus on Sharpe, who could probably be ranked as one of the top five or 10 of the best Packers ever.

Had Sharpe not been forced to retire long before his career was over, who knows what kind of successes he could have experienced. I often think about what would have been had Sharpe been able to spend more time with Brett Favre throwing him passes.

Can you imagine what could have been had Sharpe been able to line up with the likes of Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman?

The thought is scary.

In seven seasons with the Packers, he caught 595 passes for 8,134 yards (13.7 yards per reception) and 65 touchdowns. In his final three seasons while playing with Favre, his numbers were sick – 314 receptions for 3,854 yards (12 yards per catch), and 42 touchdowns. Yes, those are stats for his final three years with the Packers – all with Brett Favre.

The thing about Sharpe is that his personality was such that many felt he was arrogant, cocky, and self-centered.

Yes, he was … and longtime journalist Bud Lea rated Sharpe as the number one biggest jerk of all Packers players he had covered over the years. Sharpe decided in his first season in Green Bay to shut out the local media. He never did talk to the local beat writers covering the team. In addition, do you remember when just before the season opener in 1994 that he walked out on the team and demanded the team renegotiate his contract?

His actions were deplorable and many of his teammates thought so, too.

However, in Sharpe’s defense, football is a business and he was a hell of a businessman … and football player.

Here is how Maxymuk describes Sharpe:

Sharpe clearly had a dominant personality. What is lost in all that is what a magnificent player he was. He was big and strong and had good speed, but more important had great moves and could get open against anyone. He had terrific hands and did not shy away from catching the ball in heavy traffic. Once he caught the ball, he knew what to do with it and where the end zone was. In short, he was ideally suited to the San Francisco passing scheme, commonly known as the West Coast Offense, that new coach Mike Holmgren installed in Sharpe’s fifth year.

Sharpe credited that offense with helping him reach new heights “Ive had a chance to line up all over teh field and that makes it hard to double me. And if you get open, they will get you the ball. As a recevier, you can’t help but love it.”

Sterling led the league in receptions three times, once in yards receiver, and twice in touchdown catches. In addition, he was tough; he was frequently called a “warrior.” In those seven years he played through broken ribs, pulled hamstrings a cervical injury and turf toe without complain … he never missed a game. In his own words, he was old school, “and to me Lambeau Field is old school. You play when you’re hurt, you play in the cold, you play in the mud, you play when the field conditions are nowhere near their best and you go out there and you perform because you’re a professional. Every time I think of Lambeau Field, that’s football to me.”

 

Here are Sterling Sharpe’s career statistics:

Here is the list of all players who have worn #84 for the Green Bay Packers:

From To AV
Carroll Dale 1965 1972 55
Nolan Franz 1986 1986 0
Tory Humphrey 2006 2008 2
Gary Knafelc 1954 1962 4
Fred Nixon 1980 1981 1
Steve Odom 1974 1979 19
Andre Rison 1996 1996 2
Bill Schroeder 1997 2001 31
Sterling Sharpe 1988 1994 69
Wes Smith 1987 1987 0
Lenny Taylor 1984 1984 0
Javon Walker 2002 2005 24
D.J. Williams 2011 2012 1

 

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