Sterling Sharpe (born April 6, 1965) is a former American football wide receiver and analyst for the NFL Network. He attended the University of South Carolina, and played from 1988 to 1994 with the Green Bay Packers.
Growing up, Sharpe lived in siblings, including his brother, Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. He attended Glennville High School, playing running back, quarterback and linebacker and was a member of the basketball and track teams. As a wide receiver at the University of South Carolina, Sharpe set school records with 169 career receptions and 2,497 receiving yards and a since-broken record of 17 career touchdowns. He also set the school record for single-season receiving touchdowns with 11, which was broken in 2005 by Sidney Rice. Sharpe's #2 jersey was retired by South Carolina at the end of the 1987 regular season, making him only the second Gamecock to be granted this honor while still playing. His college coach and mentor, William "Tank" Black, left the Gamecocks to become a player manager and represented Sharpe throughout his professional career. Sterling Sharpe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Sharpe was the first round seventh overall draft pick by the Packers in 1988 and had an immediate impact on the team. In his rookie season he started all sixteen games and caught 55 passes. His sophomore season he led the league with 90 receptions, the first Packer to do so since Don Hutson in 1945, and broke Hutson's records for receptions and receiving yards in a season.
A few years later, in 1992, Sharpe and the new quarterback, Brett Favre, teamed up to become one of the top passing tandems in the league. In the final game of that season he and Favre hooked up for Sharpe's 107th reception of the season which broke the NFL's single-season receptions record, set by Art Monk in 1984. That season, Sharpe became one of only seven players in NFL history to win the "Triple Crown" at the receiver position: leading the league in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions. Don Hutson (1936, 1941–44), Elroy Hirsch (1951), Pete Pihos (1953), Raymond Berry (1959), Jerry Rice (1990) and Steve Smith (2005) are the only other players to accomplish this feat. In the 1993 season Sharpe subsequently broke his own record, with 112 receptions; this also made him the first player to have consecutive seasons catching more than 100 passes. In 1994, his 18 touchdown receptions were the second most in league history at the time, behind Jerry Rice's 22 in 1987.Sterling Sharpe's tenure at wide receiver was cut short by a neck injury suffered during the 1994 season, ending a career in which he was named an All-Pro five times (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1994). Since he was unable to continue playing, and was not on the Packers team that won the Super Bowl in 1996, his brother Shannon gave him the first of the three Super Bowl rings he has won , citing him as a major influence in his life by saying:
|“||The two people who influenced me the most, good or bad, are Sterling and my grandmother. Everything I know about being a man, about football, everything I know about sports, pretty much in life, is because of those two people.||”|
Sharpe is currently a NFL analyst. After several years with ESPN, he moved to the NFL Network in time for the 2004 season, while continuing to do occasional work for ESPN as a commentator. Starting in the 2006 season, he joined NBC's new NFL programming, serving as an analyst, along with Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Peter King and Jerome Bettis. In 2007, he left his role at NBC and was replaced by Tiki Barber. He continues to work on the NFL Network where during NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football schedule, Sharpe, alongside analysts Kurt Warner, Jim Mora, Brian Billick, Jay Glazer and host Fran Charles, can be seen on Thursday Night Kickoff from Los Angeles. Sharpe can also be seen with Joe Theismann, Brian Baldinger, Mike Mayock and Brian Billick on NFL Network's "Playbook".