The Green Bay Packers have a storied history and have had 21 of their players elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only the Chicago Bears, with 26, have more players in Canton. However, the Packers have several former players who are not in the Hall of Fame, that perhaps should be. In this series, the Wisconsin Sports Heroics staff will make the cases for several players to be inducted. In our first segment, we will make the case for the great Sterling Sharpe.
Why Sharpe Is Not in the Hall of Fame
To put it simply, Sterling Sharpe did not play long enough for most voters to give him serious consideration. Sharpe’s NFL career lasted just seven seasons. Unfortunately, he suffered a serious neck injury in the last game of the 1994 season. Due to the severity of the injury, Sharpe was forced to retired in the height of his prime. His career totals are well below those of many wide receivers that have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. As we will see, though, this should not be what keeps him out of Canton.
Sterling Sharpe’s Career Statistics
Sterling Sharpe was drafted seventh overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1988 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact, recording 751 receiving yards on 55 receptions in his rookie season. Sharpe would go on to have five seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards, finishing with career totals of 8,134 receiving yards on 595 receptions. He also caught 65 touchdowns during his brief career, averaging over nine per season. In addition he was named to the Pro Bowl five times, and a First-Team All Prop three times.
Hall of Fame Case: Point #1- Dominance
While he only played for seven seasons, Sterling Sharpe was, undoubtedly, one of the best (if not THE best) wide receiver in the game during his career. Keep in mind, this was during the career of Jerry Rice as well.
In 1989, Sharpe led all NFL receivers with 90 receptions, the first of three times he would lead the league in that category. He would lead the league again in 1992 and 1993, with 108 and 112 receptions respectively.
In addition to receptions, Sharpe posted two seasons with over 1,400 yards, leading the NFL with 1,461 in 1992. He also led the NFL in touchdowns twice, with 13 in ’82 and 18 in ’94. The only player to lead the NFL in these categories more or as many times as Sharpe during his career: Jerry Rice.
Hall of Fame Case: Point #2- Better Numbers than These Guys
In order to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, a player must put up numbers. Here is a look at Sterling Sharpe’s career numbers and how they compare to other Hall of Fame players:
Total Touchdowns- 65
- John Stallworth (63)
- Dante Lavelli (62)
- Shannon Sharpe (62)- Tight End
- Pete Pihos (61)
- Elroy Hirsch (60)
- Dave Casper (52)
- Lynn Swan (51)
- Lenny Moore (48)
Total Receiving Yards- 8,134
- Don Huston (7,991)
- Ozzie Newsome (7,980)
- Bobby Mitchell (7,954)
- Jackie Smith (7,918)
- Bob Hayes (7,414)
- Elroy Hirsch (7,029)
- Dante Lavelli (6,488)
- Lenny Moore (6,039)
- Pete Pihos (5,619)
- Lynn Swan (5,462)
- Harold Carmichael (590)
- Fred Biletnikoff (589)
- Marcus Allen (587)
- Lance Alworth (542)
- John Stallworth (537)
- Bobby Mitchell (521)
- Don Hutson (488)
Hall of Fame Case: Point #3- The Terrell Davis Argument
Terrell Davis was a running back who spent his entire seven-year career with the Denver Broncos. Notably, he was the NFL MVP in 1998 when he had 2,008 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. However, in 1999 he suffered a gruesome injury that limited him to 17 games over the next three seasons. He was forced to retire after the 2001 season and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2017.
What does this have to do with Sterling Sharpe? Like Sharpe, Davis’s NFL career lasted just seven seasons. Unlike Sharpe, though, Davis was only dominant for four of those years, compared to all seven seasons for Sterling. Sharpe and Davis were both named First-Team All Pro three times, but Davis only made three Pro Bowls (Sterling made five).
If the Hall of Fame voters felt it right to induct Davis based on four fantastic years of production, surly Sharpe should be inducted for seven years’ worth.
If all this is not enough, perhaps the words of Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe will get it done:
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