Former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe was a dominant receiver and belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall announced the semifinalists for the class of 2024 and Sharpe was among them. It’s time for him to join his brother Shannon in Canton, Ohio.

Sterling Sharpe Had a Dominant Career

The Packers selected Sharpe in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft, and he made an immediate impact on a struggling team. He caught 55 passes in his first season in the league which led the team in receiving.

By his second season, Sharpe became a dominant player. He led the NFL with 90 catches. He gained 1,423 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Sharpe and quarterback Don Majkowski had great chemistry. Their big plays that helped the Pack improve to a 10-6 record. Sharpe earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.

Sharpe earned Pro Bowl honors five times in his seven-year NFL career and was an All Pro three times. He led the NFL in catches three times, in receiving yards once and in touchdown catches twice. He won the receiving triple crown in 1992, leading the league in catches, yards and receiving touchdowns.

In 1992, Sharpe also set a new NFL single season record with 108 catches in a season. He broke his own record one year later when he caught 112 passes.

When Brett Favre became the starting quarterback early in the 1992 season, he quickly made Sharpe his favorite receiver. Whenever the Packers needed a key catch, Favre looked to Sharpe to get the big play.

Some Memorable Moments

Sharpe had many memorable and clutch moments in his career. In 1989, he caught a dramatic touchdown pass from Majkowski to beat the Bears in the final minute. The Packers had lost the last eight games against Mike Ditka’s team and the team, and the crowd went wild when instant replay confirmed the score was legal.

Sharpe came up big in his first career playoff game. He caught five passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns. The final touchdown was a dramatic 40-yard bomb that came in the final minute of the game and provided the winning points in a 28-24 win.

One week later, Sharpe caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in the Packers playoff loss to the Cowboys in Dallas. Although the Packers lost, Sharpe still had a big game.

Unfortunately, a neck injury ended Sharpe’s career after the 1994 season. In his final NFL game, he caught nine passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns as the Packers defeated the Bucs 34-19. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Packers for the second straight year.

Despite playing only seven seasons with the Packers, Sharpe is presently third in franchise history with 8,134 receiving yards, third in catches with 595 and fourth in touchdown catches with 65.

During his seven seasons in the NFL, Sharpe was second in the league in catches and receiving yards and third in receiving touchdowns. Only Jerry Rice was ahead of him in all three categories and Rice is considered the greatest receiver of all-time by most experts.

What Made Sterling Sharpe Special

Tony Dungy, who served as the Vikings defensive coordinator during Sharpe’s heyday with the Packers, praised the Packers star wideout. “There are a lot of great receivers out there, but only a few who are special,” Dungy told the Packers 1993 Yearbook. “His commitment, his will to win, his desire to be the best…That’s what makes him special.”

Jon Gruden, who was an assistant coach with the Packers during Sharpe’s time in Green Bay also loved Sharpe. “The guy’s at his best when the chips are on the table and the game is on the line…That’s when Sterling Sharpe is at his best.”

Players with Shortened Careers Make the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame has inducted players who were dominant but had their careers cut short by injuries in the past. Two of the most notable are Gale Sayers and Terrell Davis.

Like Sharpe, Sayers played seven seasons in the NFL although he played a total of four games in his final two seasons. Sayers went over 1,000 yards rushing only twice but made four Pro Bowls and was named All Pro five times.

Davis also played seven seasons in the NFL. He was dominant for four of them including a record-setting campaign in 1998 that saw him gain 2,008 yards and score 21 rushing touchdowns. Davis made three Pro Bowls and earned All Pro honors three times.

Sharpe was dominant for longer than Davis and just as long as Sayers. Both of those players are deservedly in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Another Chance for Sharpe

Favre believes his former teammate deserves to be enshrined in Canton. “The only thing you could say about Sterling is that he didn’t play as long as others. The time he played, the numbers that he put up, absolutely 100 percent deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. The guy was an incredible player.”

Or as Shannon said during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony, “I am the only person in the Hall of Fame that can say I was the second-best player in my own family.”

Sharpe has another chance now to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame and receive an honor he so richly deserves. We’ll see if he joins his brother in Canton next summer.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

Click here for more great Packers coverage