The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their three senior finalists for the class of 2024 on Wednesday. Unfortunately, that name did not include former Green Bay Packer receiver Sterling Sharpe, who has been patiently waiting to be enshrined into Canton.
Instead, the finalists for the upcoming Hall of Fame class are linebacker Randy Gradishar, defensive tackle Steve McMichael and receiver Art Powell. Sharpe was 1 of 12 semi-finalists to advance to the final rounds of cuts, but will not be the senior committee’s nomination this year. Sharpe, along with former Packer Cecil Isbell, also advanced to the semi-final round last year.
In 2022, Sharpe even made it as far as the final six nominations, which were comprised of Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko, Ken Riley, Bob Kuechenberg, Gradishar and Sharpe. Eventually, Howley, Klecko and Riley were all included in the 2023 class, which was the first of three classes in which the Hall of Fame will allow for the enshrinement of three senior candidates — rather than the typical one.
Sharpe advancing to the final six candidates in 2023 led many to believe that this was the year that the former All-Pro receiver was going to join his fellow Packers in the Hall of Fame, but the voters apparently had a different plan. Out of the three players who were left out when the final six were slashed to the final three last year, only Gradishar was named a finalist for the 2024 class.
Despite Sharpe’s biggest criticism being his longevity, he was able to record more receptions (595) and receiving yards (8,134) than Powell, who will likely be approved for the Hall of Fame next year. Powell was a four-time All-Star, but at the American Football League level, while Sharpe was a three-time first-team All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler in a much larger league with a higher level of competition. Powell never led the AFL in receptions, something Sharpe did twice in the NFL, while both were twice the receiving touchdown leaders in their respective leagues. The one win on Powell’s resume is that he led the AFL in receiving yards two times, something Sharpe only did once in the NFL.
Color me surprised, but I would have thought that Sharpe would have gotten the nod over Powell. Hopefully, Sharpe will get in with the 2025 selection process. If he doesn’t, he will once again face the logjam that is the single-entry senior classes.