MIAMI -- Shannon Sharpe made the choice fast. It may have been his easiest decision of Super Bowl week.
The Denver Broncos were moving into their locker room for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Miami Dolphins' locker room.
Sharpe chose his, that of cornerback Terrell Buckley.
A kindred spirit, a kindred mouth.
"I got T-Buck's locker," Sharpe, a seven-time Pro Bowl tight end, said during Tuesday's Super Bowl XXXIII Media Day at Pro Player Stadium. "He does all that talking. I wanted to be in his locker."
His teammates on the Broncos will tell you that's only fitting -- a guy known for non-stop, outlandish statements moving into the locker of a player known for the same trait.
"Shannon is pure comic relief for this team," Broncos defensive tackle Harold Hasselbach said.
Sharpe says he is what he is. A talker. Always.
"Am I loquacious?" Sharpe asked Tuesday. "Is that talkative? Yes, I'm loquacious."
And teammates will tell you something else, too -- good as he is on the field, nowhere is he better than with a camera in his face, and scribbling pencils transcribing his every word.
At Media Day, the loquacious one was in his element. He sat on a covered podium, one of eight for the teams' biggest stars. His "84" white jersey hugged muscular biceps, and dark sunglasses with an inch-high silver snake beside each lens covered his eyes.
He talked about his status among NFL great tight ends ("I'll put my numbers up against anybody's"). He talked about trash-talking Falcons safety Eugene Robinson ("He doesn't want to get in a jawing match with me, because he knows he can't win. He can't outtalk me. He can't cover me."). He talked about his own trash talking ("I'm always going to have the last word. I consider myself the best in the game."). And on a potential career as a broadcaster, just like older brother Sterling Sharpe of ESPN ("something I haven't really thought about.")
Sharpe said he began talking young, and never stopped. His teachers in Savannah, Ga., wanted him to talk at home. His grandmother wanted him to talk at school. Both said he talked too much around them. "I took my chances with my teachers," Sharpe said, smiling, "but I talked both places."
It was easy to talk once he got to the NFL, Sharpe said. Unlike his brother, former Packers receiver Sterling, who was a Top 10 selection, little was expected of Shannon. He was a seventh-round draft selection from Savannah State. Being unknown made his relationship with the media more comfortable. His brother rarely talked to the media in the NFL; Shannon rarely has been silent.
"Shannon makes football fun on and off the field," receiver Ed McCaffrey said. "He lightens things up around here."
And on the rare occasions in the past few seasons when things have gone bad, Sharpe's wit -- on the field, in the locker room and to the media -- has helped, teammates said.
"He's the kind of guy, no matter how tense the situation, he's going to find a joke and get everyone relaxed," Broncos cornerback Tyrone Braxton said. "He's definitely the life of the locker room."
Words sometimes get Sharpe in trouble. When the Broncos beat the Dolphins in the playoffs this season, him calling Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino a loser made national headlines and created controversy. Sharpe said the words were misinterpreted, but he wouldn't hesitate to say them again.
"Because I have been so honest, and because I have had some success, you guys appreciate that," he said. "You guys understand if Shannon says something sincerely, that's how he feels at that moment. If you ask me the question three or four days from now it might be different, but at the present time, whatever you ask me, that's how I feel. People ask, `Are you going to stop talking?' No. I don't see why I should."
Because he is what he is. A talker. Always.
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