"I got 15 tickets [for the Super Bowl], but I'm only giving away three. Guess what I'm doing with the rest? No, don't. I don't care anyway. All these people call me, 'Hey, how 'bout a ticket?' Well, wait a minute. How many games did you go to during the regular season when the tickets were $30? Oh, none? Now you want to go when the price is $400? We have to pay for these, you know. I...don't...think...so.
(Not quite done chewing, we're back in the Rover and hurtling back to the Broncos' practice facility, followed by a ghost-white photo crew.)
"I like to talk. I admit it. If I can't talk, I'm crippled, blind, deaf and dumb. I can talk to anybody, from a prisoner to the President. Not everybody has that luxury. And I'm not afraid of nothing. I'll go over the middle against anybody. Only thing I'm scared of is losing my granny or my brother or my sister or my mom. That's it.
"You asked about my lisp before. It never embarrassed me. That's just who I am. I'd love to speak like Bryant Gumbel. You can't have everything. Nobody made fun of me about it. Well, my brother and my cousins did, and my sister called me Tie Tongue. I took some speech classes in school. It's not like we could afford specialists. But it's better. My lisp didn't make me loud. I was always loud. I was little and skinny as a kid. They called me Pee Wee. I had to be loud. People say, 'Since you got rich and famous, you've become insufferable.' I say, 'That's not true. I've always been insufferable.'
"In the locker room I'm the guy who talks. Maybe people are surprised to hear that when you consider that we have John Elway and Terrell Davis, but that isn't their personality. It's my personality. Terrell won't even talk on the field. I have to do his trash-talking for him. I'll tell him, 'Just say such and such,' and he'll say, 'I can't say that. You can say that because when you catch the ball, you only have to get by two guys. When I get the ball, I got to get by 11.'
"It's funny what they say to him, though. In the first quarter they tackle him for a two-yard gain, and it's, 'No, no, T.D.! You ain't getting nothing today, baby!' In the second quarter he gets a 10-yard gain, and it's, 'All right, T.D., we'll give you that, but nothing else, baby!' In the third quarter he'll break off one for 25, and it's, 'Oooh, you running today, huh, T.D.? You running!' And in the fourth quarter he's got 180 yards, and it's, 'Yo, T.D., can you come to my charity golf tournament in July?'
"I love blocking for T.D. Blocking, running routes, speed—I think I'm the best tight end in the game. Can't nobody cover me. The other day a reporter asked me what I thought about my chances for the Hall of Fame. That knocked me out. I don't know. I know one thing, whatever you want to base it on, your numbers [Sharpe has the second-most catches by a tight end in NFL history], your wins , your seasons played [nine], your Pro Bowls [seven], your Super Bowl appearances [two], your Super Bowl wins [one], I'll put mine against anybody's. Let me ask you something. [Hall of Fame tight end] Kellen Winslow, did he win a Super Bowl? Ozzie [Newsome] didn't, did he? [Hall of Famer] Jackie Smith? So I don't know.
"I know John's going. And I'll tell you this, I'm nothing without John Elway. I'll tell you something else. Without Dan [Reeves, the Atlanta Falcons' coach, who, as the Broncos' coach in 1990, drafted Sharpe in the seventh round out of Savannah State], I'm not even in the league. I'm in law enforcement. I'm in the ATF or the FBI. I'd have been good, too.
"You know I've got a degree in criminal justice and [a minor in] history, right? I tell people, 'I didn't graduate magna cum laude, I graduated thank you, Lawdy!' But I graduated. People are surprised at that because of the Prop 48 thing. [Sharpe's SAT score was too low to qualify for Division I football] But I didn't prepare myself. People look at me and they don't think of me as a scholar. Nobody who knows me thinks I'm a dumb jock. I'm well versed in & plethora of subjects, how's that? Play me in Jeopardy! I'll beat your brakes off. I'll beat somebody playing Jeopardy! and they'll scream, 'You've already watched this one.' That's how good I am.
(Back at the Broncos' facility we shoot the photo, and then jump back in the Rover and barrel straight to an emergency viewing of his apartment closet.)