Monday, September 30, 2002

Monday Night Preview

Sharpe returns to Baltimore

The Associated Press

        BALTIMORE - He's accounted for a meager 83 yards on eight receptions, has yet to score a touchdown and last week went the entire game without a single catch. At age 34, tight end Shannon Sharpe is no longer the go-to guy in Denver's offense. Yet no player on the Broncos will receive more attention - and trash talk - from the Baltimore Ravens tonight.

        Sharpe expects a friendly reception from his former teammates and the fans who cheered wildly for him over the past two seasons.

        “I'm sure we'll be messing with each other,” Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis said with a wry grin.

        Sharpe put up Hall of Fame numbers and won two Super Bowl rings with the Broncos from 1990-98 before signing as a free agent with Baltimore for the 2000 season. He helped the Ravens capture their first NFL championship that season.

        Last year, Sharpe ranked second on the team in receptions and Baltimore again reached the playoffs. But after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round, the Ravens began a salary-cap driven purge.

        So Sharpe, who once said that comparing Lewis to Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes was like comparing “Titanic” to “Dude, Where's My Car?” left a sinking ship.

        Although his numbers are down, Sharpe is delighted with the Broncos' 3-0 start, but he derives no satisfaction from seeing the Ravens (0-2) struggle without him.

        “I have a lot of great friends there, and that whole organization was great to me,” Sharpe said. “But you couldn't keep that team together forever. We had a lot of older guys on the football team. Still, it's disappointing to see that Super Bowl team dismantled.”


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