DENVER (AP) - Shannon Sharpe was never at a loss for words during an record-setting NFL career that spanned 14 seasons. He wasn't about to clam up
Thursday as he formally announced his retirement.
"I've always liked to talk and it's who I am,'' said Sharpe, who is leaving the Denver Broncos to become a member of The NFL Today on CBS. "I've
always had something to say and knew what I was talking about.''
Owner Pat Bowlen took a more serious approach to the loss of a beloved player Denver drafted in the seventh round out of Savannah State in 1990. What
do you say about the greatest tight end to ever play football? Bowlen said. I don't think there is any dispute that Shannon is the best to have ever
played that position.
He was the conscience of this football team, Bowlen said. In times when good things were happening and in turmoil, Shannon was always there to lead
this team in many ways with what he said and what he did.''
Sharpe, who will be 36 this month, had wavered on whether to return for a 15th NFL season before announcing in April that he would be back. The
eight-time Pro Bowler had expressed interest in a TV analyst job in the past and changed his mind about retirement when Deion Sanders left the CBS
show. His brother, Sterling, was a commentator for ESPN for seven years before joining the NFL Network this year.
Sharpe won two Super Bowls with Denver and one with Baltimore during his career. He's the NFL's career leader in receptions (815) and yards (10,060)
for tight ends, and last season he passed Jerry Smith for most touchdowns with 62. Overall, Sharpe ranks ninth in receptions and 21st in receiving
yards. The only time he was speechless Thursday was when he was asked to rate himself against other tight ends, past and present.
"I'll leave that to you,'' he said.
Sharpe spent all but two of his 14 seasons with the Broncos. After two years with Baltimore, he returned to Denver in 2002 for the final two years in
the NFL. When he came back he said he would do whatever it took to get a Super Bowl ring,'' Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. He meant what he said.''
The Broncos have prepared themselves for the loss of Sharpe, signing free agent tight ends Byron Chamberlain, Jed Weaver and O.J. Santiago and
re-signing Patrick Hape. Three other tight ends are on the roster. Sharpe was scheduled to make $760,000 with the Broncos next season, but is expected
to make more with CBS.
Sharpe surprised many of his teammates Thursday by showing up for an offseason workout session. During the session, he said, he told his teammates he
was prepared physically, but not mentally to return for another season.
"It's not a good time to retire. It's not a bad time to retire,'' Sharpe said. "It's just time.''