Shannon Sharpe deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, if Ozzie Newsome has a say

February 03, 2011|By Mike Preston

By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

Former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe has failed to make the Hall of Fame class for the last two seasons, but if Ravens general manger Ozzie Newsome had a vote, Sharpe would have been inducted.

Newsome should know a little bit about tight ends. After playing the position for the Cleveland Browns for 13 years, Newsome was inducted in the Hall of Fame in the Class of 1999 after catching 662 passes for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns.

Newsome says Sharpe should be in the same group with the six other Hall of Fame tight ends. Saturday, the names of this year's class for the Hall of Fame will be released. Sharpe could be on that list.

"He won; he had longevity and he had production, the three key measuring points," said Newsome. "When you played against Shannon, it was no different than playing against any other great player. You had to game plan and defend him, or he would impact the game."

Before Sharpe retired seven years ago, he held just about every career reception record for his position. Sharpe finished with 815 receptions, 62 touchdowns and 10,060 receiving yards.

He was named to eight Pro Bowl squads during his 14 year career, and was on three Super Bowl teams, two with Denver, and one with the Ravens.

"During that Super Bowl season in 2000, we had guys who provided leadership like a Shannon Sharpe and a Rod Woodson," said Newsome. "Go ask Ray about the impact of a Shannon Sharpe. Those two guys helped him become the player he is today.

"We had a lot of young players at the time," Newsome said. "Shannon became a leader, especially on the offensive side of the ball, because he had been to Super Bowls, and he could tell those guys what they needed to do to win."

Another former Raven, cornerback Deion Sanders is also among the 15 finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class.

Agent speak

It had seemed as if agent Drew Rosenhaus talked to Newsome Wednesday only about the status of offensive tackle Jared Gaither. In fact, Newsome talked to Rosenhaus about running back Willis McGahee and receiver Donte' Stallworth as well.

All three are represented by Rosenhaus.

"When an agent has multiple clients they like to sit down, and talk about them, usually early in the offseason," Newsome said. "In some cases, like with our kickers, their agents called and we told them we'd like to get something done early. In other cases, we just have to wait and be patient."

McGahee has one year remaining on his contract, and Stallworth is an unrestricted free agent. According to current rules in place, Gaither is a restricted free agent and Newsome said he plans on offering Gaither a tender. Last year, Gaither was paid $2.396 million from a tendered offer.

Once or if the rules change for Gaither, the Ravens shouldn't offer him big money or a new deal unless it is loaded with incentives based on playing time. His work ethic was questionable when he was at the University of Maryland, and it came under scrutiny last season long before the back injury forced him out for the season in training camp.

Super prediction

Green Bay has the right quarterback (Aaron Rodgers), receivers (Greg Jennings, Donald Driver) and spread formations to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in the Super Bowl, but not the offensive tackles in Chad Clifton and T.J. Lang.

A key to beating the Steelers is to put them into nickel coverage, but you still have to block outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley coming off the edges.

The Steelers are too physical for Green Bay. Pittsburgh just beats on you and beats on you.

Final score: Steelers 20, Packers 17.

Lewis rumors

There have been a lot of rumors swirling about the Ravens offering Lewis a financial package to retire, but Lewis laughed about that option, and Newsome also said it wasn't true.

"We just had our personnel meetings this week, and Ray hasn't told any off our defensive staff he was retiring," Newsome said. "The last I heard from Ray he stood up at the end-of-the-year meeting and told his teammates that he had already begun to prepare for next season."

At the Pro Bowl, Lewis did his usual recruiting for the Ravens to lure some free agents here to Baltimore.

Tough guy

The more you think about it, the more amazing it is that Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason played the last four games, two regular season and two postseason, with a hernia.

There have been times when Mason has been a drama queen with injuries, but to play with a hernia is beyond the call of duty. This gives new meaning to the term "tough guy".

Not so smooth

During the week leading up to the Pittsburgh playoff game, some of the players had an issue with head coach John Harbaugh about the length of practices and whether the Ravens had been given the proper amount of time off to rest.

As a team, both sides came to an agreement but there were some tense moments with some players even threatening to go the players' union and the media.

This shouldn't be happening during the biggest week of the season.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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