For the second year in a row, former Baltimore Raven and Denver Bronco tight end Shannon Sharpe was denied election into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. Sharpe made the first cut from 15 to 10, but was not in the final cutdown from 10 to 5 among the modern-era players who were eligible.
The news that Sharpe fell short was somewhat surprising, but when looking at the list of candidates who were eligible for this year’s class, not overwhelmingly so. Everyone knew that Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were locks to be inducted in the first year of eligibility for each. Also, Sharpe is in a pool of pass catchers that are also in line for induction: Andre Reed, Cris Carter and Tim Brown. Brown and Carter failed to make the first cut, while Reed fell short with Sharpe.
In addition, the Hall had a backlog of candidates that have been on the list for years and have been denied by candidates who were deemed more deserving. Some of those candidates finally were elected on Saturday. Russ Grimm had been eligible for years, and becomes the first member of the famed “Hogs” offensive line of the Washington Redskins of the ’80s and early ’90s to get into the Hall. Rickey Jackson, for years one of the best pass rushing linebackers for the New Orleans Saints and later the San Francisco 49ers had also been on the line for a few years. The same can also be said for the two senior candidates who were elected: Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. With only a maximum of seven slots, there are going to be a number of candidates who are going to have to wait their turn. Sharpe just happens to be one of them.
I have no doubt that Sharpe, as well as Carter and Tim Brown, and perhaps even Reed will all eventually get in. It’s just going to take some time, particularly with a lot of deserving players on the list now and in years to come. Remember, in a few years Jonathan Ogden will be eligible. Will he have to wait a few years, or is he a first year lock to get in? Time will tell.