My Person of the Week: Shannon Sharpe

My grandmother always said, ‘Sometimes it seems when people get to where they’re going, they forget where they came from.’
— Shannon Sharpe

Shannon Sharpe was once one of the most feared Tight Ends in the National Football League.  A relatively unknown and undrafted wide-receiver out of Savannah State University, Sharpe went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, acquiring two Super Bowl rings and retiring as the first at the position to reach 10,000 receiving yards. Chances are your favorite Tight End has Sharpe to thank for blazing the trail, pushing the position outside the numbers and into the secondary.

Unlike most professional athletes, however, he chose not to sail off into the sunset, only to show his face for ring of honor ceremonies and team reunions. Instead Sharpe pursued a career as a sports pundit, not just to talk sports, but to use his platform and his name recognition as tools to validate the perspective he represents for many people - people, who unlike him, do not have the means (the platform, name recognition, job security, etc.) to freely speak out against injustices that harm them.

His response on Monday to the slew of athletes who took a knee in silent protest of President Trump’s comments towards protesters in sports perfectly encapsulates the mission that fuels the man. Sharpe has proven that he is removed from public influence of doing what is convenient in sacrifice of what is right.

On FS1's Undisputed Sharpe shared his point of view on this weekend's protests.

His use of his platform began with Colin Kaepernick’s protest of racial injustices and police brutality, where Sharpe put himself in front of the nation in defense of what Kaepernick and his supporters were hoping to achieve. Rather than resorting himself to cookie-cutter, politically correct answers, Sharpe, time and again, explained what America looks like to citizens of minority neighborhoods across the country. Often taking criticism for “bringing politics into sports.”

So when NFL players and owners locked arms in a display of unity, or chose to stay in the locker room during the National Anthem, Sharpe was not impressed. Because he was never concerned with the theatrics. Because lost in the outward showing of unity by players  and owners this past weekend was the significance of why Colin Kaepernick knelt, and was virtually crucified.

Furthermore, he did not take kindly to the sudden show of support from the likes of LeSean McCoy and Ray Lewis, men who’ve publicly denounced Colin Kaepernick and his stance against racial injustices. Because Sharpe had to pick up the pieces after their comments -- born out of a moment of convenience -- divided and muddied the waters of the fight for equality in this country.

And that is why he is my person of the week: Because Shannon Sharpe refuses to lose sight of who he is and the change he can bring.