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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bronco Shannon Sharpe gives thanks to his family

Deion Sanders' NFL Hall of Fame induction speech was not cocky or arrogant. Sanders took a step back and emotionally told the crowd of 13,000 about the creation of his alter ego, and how he felt he always had to prove himself.
Growing up he saw his mother struggle, and all he wanted to do was provide for her and rise above that. And he was going to do anything he could to ensure that. So all the cockiness, and arrogance, was for his mom.
"I would pre-rehearse the quotes, I would pre-rehearse the sayings because I knew I had the substance," Sanders said. "All the things you thought I was, and all the things I didn't like, I was doing it for my momma."
One of Sharpe's best stories came from his first NFL start with the Broncos. John Elway, now a Hall of Fame member, was his quarterback.
On every play, Sharpe went in motion. Each time he jogged behind Elway, who was taking the snap from center. As Sharpe passed by, Elway would tell him what to do.
"Block the end," Sharpe said, talking out of the side of his mouth to imitate Elway. "Block the end. Run an out pattern. Run the corner."
The Broncos won that game, and Sharpe was standing on the sidelines. Uh oh. He can see Elway walking toward him.
"Instead of being angry and upset with me, he walks up to me and says, 'I think next week we need to learn the plays,' " Sharpe said. Elway, who joined Broncos owner Pat Bowlen on the flight here to attend Sharpe's ceremony, was among those who smiled.
Sharpe saved the final 10 minutes of his speech to talk about his beloved grandma Mary Porter, who died last month at 89 years old. Grandma Mary had raised nine of her own children, yet despite having little means, took a train to Chicago to pick up a 3-month-old Shannon and his older brother and sister to raise them.
He talked about how as a child he would eat raccoon, possum, squirrel and turtle. He talked about how he strived to make sure his kids never had to eat those same meals.
As his grandma Mary lay in her casket last month, Sharpe walked up to her for a final goodbye.
"I asked her, 'Are you proud?' " Sharpe said. "I said, 'Granny, are you proud of your baby? Because everything I've done in my life, I've tried to please you.' "
Children savor dad's day
Sharpe's day started in the AEP breakfast room, which was holding the end of the parade. The Sharpes were the last of the current Hall class scheduled to ride in the parade. The Deacon Jones-Willie Lanier-Bobby Bell group would bring up the rear.
"I want to be right behind you to see if you're going to cry again," Little said.
"Why are you laughing?" Shannon Sharpe shouted back at Little.
"He's so happy he finally gets to be in a car he wasn't pushing," Sterling Sharpe said.
All the while, Shannon Sharpe's children, all college-aged, smiled and shook their heads at the silly banter from these grown men. They were all wearing No. 84 Shannon Sharpe jerseys. There was a grass stain on daughter Kayla's left shoulder.
"These are all game jerseys that my dad wore," Kayla said. "I thought we might get special jerseys. My dad said, 'Those are special.' "
Kiari, Shannon's only son, is studying both biology and business management at Georgia Southern. He's the quiet one. Kayla is studying pre-law at Georgia Southern. She's the funny one. Kaley is attending Florida State with a goal of becoming a medical examiner. She's the independent one.
"This is where all my money is going," Sharpe said, shaking his head in disbelief at Kaley's choice.
"I'll always have a job!" Kaley countered.
"They dead!" Sharpe said. "What difference does it make why they died?"
The day will come, hopefully not any time soon, when Shannon will join his grandmother Mary. Shannon Sharpe the football player, though, will live on forever in the form of a bronze bust. His football career was examined, and it was determined worthy of immortality.

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