Sharper’s Image

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October 5, 2004
Sharper’s Image

by Keith Weiland

The Texans have finally won two games in a row. For the love of TiVo, let’s finally move on to talk about something else other than cutting David Carr’s hair.

How about we fire up the bandwagon for Jamie Sharper’s Pro Bowl bid instead?

Wait, before you click the ‘Back’ button, realize that it is that kind of ho-hum acceptance of the work Sharper is doing for the Texans defense that has kept him out of a Pro Bowl appearance, one he has already deserved. I mean, can you even imagine how weak the middle of the Texans defense would be if he weren’t plugging it on every single snap of the football?

Sharper is easily the most productive and consistent member of Texans defense, not just this season, but ever since the first Toro decals were ever affixed to the side of a Texan helmet. The inside linebacker led the team in tackles the last two seasons, and he even led the entire NFL in the same statistic a year ago.

Freed from the long shadows created by the Canton-bound Ray Lewis in Baltimore, Sharper arrived in Houston via the expansion draft and was immediately shadowed by the Tony Boselli hype and subsequent injury fallout. After a 2002 season in which he amassed 5½ sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and 178 tackles, Sharper’s efforts took a backseat to the Pro Bowl selections of Aaron Glenn and Gary Walker.

In 2003, with both Walker and Glenn missing significant time due to injuries, Sharper not only paced the league in tackles, but he also led the Texans in sacks. Yet Sharper still failed to get an invite to the Pro Bowl, having been snubbed in favor of guys like Miami’s Zach Thomas, and of course, his old buddy Lewis.

Sharper does have a couple things going against him once again this season, not the least of which is the team for which he plays. It’s been hard for Sharper to emerge from those shadows when the Texans have had no national exposure since their first-ever game. They do have one Sunday night game coming up on ESPN later in the season, but will it be enough?

Even with the poor national coverage of the Texans, if Sharper could make more highlight-worthy plays, he might be able to overcome that hurdle. Let’s face it, a textbook tackle is to football highlights what a 20-foot jumper has become in the NBA.

In more than two seasons as a Texan, Sharper has only made two plays that really stand out in my mind. The first being the sack he made in Buffalo to secure the road win over the Bills. The second came just a couple days ago when he sacked Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins, recovering the fumble he forced, then running it into the endzone for six points.

That is the sort of highlight-worthy play that a Pro Bowl voter should remember when it comes time to hand out first class tickets to Honolulu. It should serve to accentuate all of his other solid play and reinforce what an exceptional player he has become.

Despite Sharper’s recurring image on the highlight film in the Raider game’s 24-hour aftermath, he still needs a couple more just like it to remind voters come December when the polls open. With a strengthening defensive line getting better as the season wears on, Sharper should be freed more often to blitz the quarterback untouched as he did against the Raiders.

And that should hopefully be enough to finally warrant Sharper the first Pro Bowl selection of his career.

So please, in the wake of this second consecutive victory, do me a solid and let’s quickly change the topic of discussion from Carr’s hair to Sharper’s flair for the Pro Bowl. But we need to act fast — Carr already has a jump start on us in another direction. A wrong direction.

“Maybe I’ll grow a beard to win the Super Bowl,” he joked (I hope), while sitting down for his mullet trim on Monday.

First, Crystal Gale references. What’s next, ZZ Top?

Trust me, that’s one’s got Legs, so start running as fast as you can to sing the praises of the Sharp(er) Dressed Man.

Give Keith Weiland all your lovin’, all your hugs and kisses too. Jamie Sharper Jamie Sharper Home

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