What do you get when you combine “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” with legendary Gold Jacket recipients? The most epic Kentucky Derby® experience imaginable. In 2016, Derby Experiences will host three Pro Football Hall of Famers in the Turf Club: Shannon Sharpe, Thurman Thomas, and Warren Moon. These football icons will be seated in the Turf Club Balcony area on both Derby and Oaks days, will be in the Aristides Lounge and the Affirmed Lounge in between races for Q&As, and will be in attendance at our Fillies & Lilies Party on Derby Eve!* Learn more about these accomplished gentlemen below!
Class of 2011
“My life for 14 years in the National Football League was football. I ate, I drank, I slept and thought football. That’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t take vacations, I didn’t own a yacht, I didn’t have a whole bunch of hobbies other than working out and getting ready for the upcoming season.”
With that kind of work ethic, you better believe Shannon Sharpe was one of the scariest tight ends the League has ever seen…if you were on the opposing defense, that is. He called Denver home for the first decade of his professional career, gaining recognition early on for catching 53 passes for 640 yards in only his third season to earn his first Pro Bowl bid. While at Denver, he earned two Super Bowl rings in back-to-back championship games (XXXII and XXXIII) and landed a coveted spot on Wheaties cereal boxes.
After leaving the Broncos in 2000, Sharpe signed with Baltimore, where he set a new record for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens’ general manager at the time and the player whose record Sharpe surpassed, described him as “a great route-runner…[who has] proven that he can make the big plays. That’s what separates him. He’s a threat.” Though he only spent two years with the Ravens, Sharpe earned yet another championship ring in Super Bowl XXXV, embarrassing the Giants in a game that ended with a final score of 34-7.
Sharpe returned to Denver for his final two seasons. In all, Sharpe played 14 seasons totaling 815 receptions, 10,060 receiving yards, 62 touchdowns, and 8 Pro Bowl selections.
Class of 2007
“In college, I had to work really hard to get my game where I wanted it to be because I had a guy behind me whose name was Barry Sanders. With him being behind me and not wanting him to take my job, if he ran 10 100-yard sprints, I had to run 11. Just to keep that edge. I think that helped me once I got into the pros.”
Back in the day, running back Thurman Thomas was a force to be reckoned with. He began his professional career as a second-round pick with the Buffalo Bills, becoming part of the no-huddle offense that led the team to 4 consecutive Super Bowls (XXV – XXVIII). He stockpiled more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in multiple individual seasons during his career, leading the league in yardage output with 631 yards on 62 receptions and 1,407 rushing yards in 1991.
In 2000, Thomas joined the ranks of Miami but suffered a career-ending knee injury in November of his inaugural season with the Dolphins. In all, Thomas played 13 seasons totaling 12,074 rushing yards, 4,458 receiving yards, 65 rushing touchdowns, and 5 Pro Bowl selections.
Class of 2006
“We're a family, and families support one another. I'm a part of this family. I'm going to support everything that it does.”
In 1990, Moon led the league with 4,689 passing yards. He also led the league in attempts (584), completions (362), and touchdowns (33), and tied Dan Marino's record with nine 300-yard games in a season. The following year, he again led the league in passing yards 4,690. At the same time, he joined Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Dan Fouts as the only quarterbacks to post back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons. Moon also established new NFL records that season with 655 attempts and 404 completions.
Moon was traded to the Minnesota Vikings before the 1994 season. In his debut season he passed for 4,264 yards and led the team to the playoffs. In his second season in Minnesota, he again passed for more than 4,200 yards. Moon moved on to the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in 1997 where the veteran star set franchise records for completions (313) and yards passing (3,678) and earned his ninth Pro Bowl selection. Injuries limited his play in 1998. In 1999, Moon joined the Kansas City Chiefs and spent two seasons as a backup there before retiring.
Despite spending his first six professional seasons in the CFL, Moon ranked third all-time in NFL passing yardage and fourth in touchdown passes thrown at the time of his retirement.
Mingle with Pro Football Hall of Famers at the Kentucky Derby®!
During Q&A sessions in the Aristides and Affirmed Lounges, these Hall of Famers will reflect on their life experiences and what they’ve learned over the years. We look forward to hosting these special guests at the Kentucky Derby to create a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
These esteemed athletes are expected to be in attendance on both Derby and Oaks days, making appearances in the Lounges around midday and attending our Fillies & Lilies Party on Derby Eve!* Click below to browse through our Derby packages – select packages with Turf Club, Aristides Lounge, or Affirmed Lounge access to be in the presence of these great athletes!
* subject to change