Sharpe, Faulk, Dent, Hanburger enter Hall of Fame

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CANTON, OHIO (AP) - That kid who went to college with two brown grocery bags filled with his belongings strutted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

Shannon Sharpe joined running back Marshall Faulk, Chicago Bears sackmaster Richard Dent, Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger, the late Les Richter, and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol in being inducted into the hall.

Deion Sanders was the final inductee.

When Sharpe headed to Savannah State, all he heard was how he was destined to fail.

“When people told me I’d never make it, I listened to the one person who said I could: me,” Sharpe said.

Failure? Sharpe went from a seventh-round draft pick to the most prolific tight end of his time. He won two Super Bowls with Denver and one with Baltimore, and at the time of his retirement in 2003, his 815 career receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 TDs were all NFL records for a tight end. Three times he went over 1,000 yards receiving in a season _ almost unheard of for that position. In a 1993 playoff game, Sharpe had 13 catches against Oakland, tying a record.

Sharpe patted his bust on the head Saturday before saying, “All these years later, it makes me proud when people call me a self-made man.”

In a captivating acceptance speech, Sharpe passionately made a pitch to get his brother, Sterling, who played seven years with the Packers, considered for election to the shrine. Sterling, who introduced his younger brother for induction, wept as Shannon praised him.

“I am the only player who has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and am the second-best player in my family,” Sharpe said.

“I am so honored. You don’t know what this means for me. This is the fraternity of all fraternities.”

Faulk was the running back of running backs for much of his 12-season career.

As versatile and dangerous a backfield threat as the NFL has seen, Faulk was voted the NFL’s top offensive player in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and was the NFL’s MVP in 2000. He was the league’s scoring leader in 2000 and ‘01, made seven Pro Bowls, and was the first player to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four consecutive years.

The second overall draft pick in 1994, when Faulk was offensive rookie of the year, he played five seasons in Indianapolis, then his final seven for St. Louis, helping the Rams to their only Super Bowl victory in 1999.

Through tears, Faulk said, “Boy this is pretty special. … I am glad to be a part of it. This is football heaven.

“I am a football fan just like all of you,” Faulk told the crowd. “I have always, always been a fan and had an abiding passion and love and respect for this game of football, even when I was a kid selling popcorn in the Superdome because I couldn’t afford a ticket.

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