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Shannon Sharpe Can Do His Own Thing and Thrive Without ESPN


Shannon Sharpe has always had an entertaining, fan-friendly personality way before his days as a media star.

From a resurfaced clip of his funny interview with Cheryl Miller at the 1990 East-West Shrine Bowl and his memorable phone call during a 1996 beat down of the Patriots to his hilarious reactions and takes on “Undisputed,” Sharpe has always had a penchant for humor and an affinity for the camera.

“I was a terrible student,” Sharpe quipped to Sports Illustrated in 2004. “I didn’t graduate magna cum laude, I graduated ‘Thank you, Lawdy!’”

But while his media career took off almost immediately, the start to his pro career didn’t garner the same type of instant success.

After being selected by Denver in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft, Sharpe didn’t produce much. But once moved to tight end a few years later, he became a Broncos legend.

In twelve seasons with the team, Sharpe was a 7x Pro Bowler, 4x first-team All-Pro and won back-to-back Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXIII). He also played two seasons with the Ravens, where he was once again named a Pro Bowler and won his third Super Bowl (XXXV).

Sharpe is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, the Division II Football Hall of Fame in 2009, Savannah State’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

A year after retiring in 2003, Sharpe joined CBS Sports’ “The NFL Today” and began his media ascent.

Some made fun of his lisp and drawl, but those traits actually ended up endearing him to sports fans who enjoyed his honesty, humor and country grammar.

In 2014, CBS let Sharpe go. Two years later, he joined Fox Sports and became a co-host of “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed” with Skip Bayliss.

While the show had its ups and downs in the ratings category, it developed a loyal fanbase that enjoyed the debates and banter between the two.

As Sharpe’s career flourished, he became one of the more popular figures in sports media. His talents enabled him to launch his “Club Shay Shay” podcast, which has grown into a social media success with over 1.1 million followers on YouTube alone.

But the once friendly chemistry between the “Undisputed” co-hosts began to sour and eventually crumbled after Bayliss refused to delete an ignorant tweet about the Bills’ Damar Hamlin.

That friction delivered last week’s news that Sharpe was leaving Fox Sports and taking “Club Shay Shay” with him.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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