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SPORTS WEEKEND | Around the AFC / WEST

Sharpe Says 'Gift' Was Years in Making

November 20, 1998

Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe wants credit for the Chiefs' loss of composure Monday night, which resulted in five personal fouls, the suspension of Derrick Thomas and the release of Wayne Simmons.

"I'm never going to get personal," Sharpe said. "I'm not going to talk about your mom, I'm not going to talk about your sister, or your girlfriend or your wife or anything like that. But I'm going to get to a point where I know what to say. If I can't make you upset, you're not human. You have no emotions. I perfected this, trust me. I perfected this talent I have to make anybody, anybody upset."

His mother should be very proud.

More from Sharpe about his gift:

"I can remember that it started at a very young age. I'll never forget the first time that I got into trouble was with a teacher in speech class. The teacher always told us that if somebody gets to a word that they can't pronounce, let them sound it out. This kid got to a word and he stopped . . . and she was like, 'Johnny it sounds like, it sounds like . . .' and I said, 'It sounds like Johnny can't read.' She put me out of class for two weeks. She told me, 'Shannon Sharpe, don't you ever come back to class until you know how to act.' That was the beginning. From that point on, from the third grade, I knew I had the ability to make people upset."

Unlike most coaches, Denver's Mike Shanahan refuses to shy away from the talk about the Broncos possibly going undefeated.

"I think it's great, and I think it's great for football," Shanahan said. "It's great to talk about."

CENTRAL / He Doesn't Need Film to Learn About Kickers

The Steelers tried signing Brett Conway to kick for them, but he opted to go with the Redskins, and after passing on Cole Ford went with Chapman College's Matt George, who had kicked for the Steelers in training camp.

George, who had been working on an eight-page paper for his film aesthetics class, comparing and contrasting "Herbie the Love Bug" and "Days of Thunder," flunked a comeback audition with the Steelers.

George was two for 10 in pregame warmups, convincing Coach Bill Cowher to go for it on fourth and one at the Oilers' 15-yard line only to fail to get the first down. On the next drive, he allowed George to kick, but his attempt was blocked. Late in the game, Cowher passed on the field-goal attempt and went for it again on fourth down, and the Steelers failed.

"I guess I'm now realizing the importance of having a reliable kicker," said Cowher, who then cut George, allowing him to focus on more important stuff, like Herbie.

The Bengals look as though they need a new head coach rather than starting quarterback, but owner Mike Brown said, "People get frustrated. You hear a cascade of complaints. There's always a temptation to start fresh. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I remember not so long ago when Mike Shanahan got fired."

But that was because Al Davis didn't know what he was doing.

EAST / When Not on His Back, Manning Has Been OK

While Ryan Leaf was on the bench in San Diego, Peyton Manning passed for three touchdowns against the Jets.

"It's a big game for me and for this team," said Manning. "You like to sit on your couch as a kid and dream about this type of game."

One reason for Manning's improvement: In the last six games he has been sacked only twice.

After the Colts missed a long field-goal attempt, the Jets' Aaron Glenn returned it 104 yards. "When it happened," said Colt defensive tackle Tony McCoy, "I kept looking at people wondering how many points they got for it. 'Is it seven? Is it two?' I've never seen that before. When they put that seven up there, it was like 'Whoa!' "

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