To Strippers, the gods gave silicone. To chiropractors, coach seating. And to sportswriters, especially those covering Super Bowl XXXIII, the gods gave Shannon Sharpe, the Denver Broncos' marble-cut, wide-mouthed tight end who "takes the Q out of Q and A. Watch this:
Uh, Shannon, we need a quick picture of you for this article, so—"Hold on! Got to get a haircut first. You guys come with me. I'll take you to the greatest barbershop in the world! I get my hair cut there every Friday, and I go next door, too, and I get the same snack: Twinkies, Lay's and an iced tea. I know, I know, you don't think you can get a body like this eating Twinkies, but you can. Twinkies are the secret!
(We're in his 1999 Range Rover, driving at very high rates of speed to the barbershop.)
"You know, I go places and sometimes the girls go, 'Shannon, can I touch your chest?' 'Shannon, can I touch certain other areas?' I always say, 'I can't believe you even asked me that! Can I touch your chest? Can I touch certain other areas on you?' And they say, 'I can't believe you even asked me that!'
"That's one reason I don't go out. I don't drink, either. Since 1984 I've had one drink. One. I do nor want to drink because I do not want to give up control. I have to have control. I don't smoke. I don't hang out. Drinking and smoking and hanging out are not going to help me get ready for the next game. Drinking and smoking and hanging out are not going to keep my family fed.
"Hey, I have obligations, too! I got three kids. You didn't know that, did you? Let's not go into what happened. Three kids, all born around the same year , when I acted a fool. Three kids by different women, just say that. I'm not proud of that. I was stupid. But I love my kids. Two girls [Kayla and Kaley] and a boy [Kiari]. I call them. I see them. I'd love to call them and see them more, but I hate talking to their mothers! Hate! My grandmother didn't raise me to hate anybody, but I really hate hearing their voices. Why? Because if I was Joe America, making $20,000 a year, I don't think I'd have any kids, put it that way. I think they saw a guy who was close to his family, and they saw a guy who treats the women in his family nice, and they might've thought, This is the ideal situation. But you live and you learn.
"It's too bad. I think I could be a good dad. I'm not bad, but I could be better. I had two rottweilers [Kane and Killian], and I treated those dogs like humans. They slept in my bed—and not just at the bottom. They had to sleep on the pillows. I'd go to Morton's [steakhouse] and get them steaks! They had birthday cake on their birthdays! They had chicken gravy on everything they ate! But they died. I will never have a pet again, because I never want to feel as bad as I felt when they died.
"I grew up wanting the wife, the dog, the 1.5 kids, the house and the white picket fence. Now I won't have that. But it's my fault. I was reckless in my behavior with those women. Maybe I would have never gotten that anyway. In my neighborhood the picket fence would have got stolen.
(Now we're at the barbershop. Sharpe's barber, Billy Jackson, does not get a word in edgewise, sidewise or otherwise.)
"I've never changed my haircut. Not in 25 years. When everybody was shaving their heads, I didn't, did I, Billy? [Jackson starts to answer, but the moment is gone.] Look at my head anyway: You can't shave four corners. That's just the way I do things. I don't like change. I wash my cars every week, whether they've been on the road or not. Wax them twice a month, too. Four cars. That's not many. Some guys have eight. Only bought one stupid thing my whole life: the Ferrari, for $195,000. Stupidest thing ever, and that's only because Sterling [his brother, the ESPN analyst] talked me into it. I was making $325,000, and he talks me into buying a $195,000 Ferrari just because we could get a discount if we bought two. Stupid. I almost went broke trying to be like my brother. He was making over $1 million. I had to be good, or I'd have been bankrupt!