Darren Sharper during the Vikings' 2008 Training Camp.
|Date of birth:November 3, 1975|
|Place of birth: Richmond, Virginia|
|College: William & Mary|
|NFL Draft: 1997 / Round: 2 / Pick: 60|
|Debuted in 1997 for the Green Bay Packers|
|Last played in 2010 for the New Orleans Saints|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Darren Mallory Sharper (born November 3, 1975) is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL) for fourteen seasons. He played college football for the College of William & Mary. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft, also playing for the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Sharper was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.
Sharper attended the College of William and Mary, where he played for the William & Mary Tribe football team. In high school Sharper had primarily played quarterback, and he wanted to be a quarterback at William & Mary as well, until his college coach, Jimmye Laycock, told Sharper that he had the potential to succeed in the NFL as a defensive back. During his college career, he earned All-America honors twice and was named first-team All-Yankee Conference selection three times. As a senior he was the Yankee Conference Defensive Player of the Year after intercepting 10 passes. He finished his college career with a school record 24 career interceptions and a I-AA record 468 career interception return yards. He also set the school record with 1,037 career punt return yards.
College awards and honors
- 3× First-team All-Yankee (1994–1996)
- 2× I-AA All-American (1995–1996)
- Yankee Conference Defensive P.O.Y. (1996)
Green Bay Packers
Sharper was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft. During his rookie season he played in 14 games, finishing with 19 tackles and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. The first of which was a 50-yard return in week 10 to help the Packers to a 20–10 victory over the Detroit Lions. His play helped Green Bay reach Super Bowl XXXII which they lost to the Denver Broncos by a score of 31–24. During his second season he started all 16 games for the Packers, finishing with 73 tackles. In 1999 he started all 16 games for the second consecutive season finishing with a career high 113 tackles and three interceptions.
Sharper's breakout season was in 2000. He finished the season with 92 tackles and a league leading nine interceptions, and made his first career Pro Bowl. Sharper had another great season in 2001 finishing with 94 tackles and six interceptions.
In 2002 Sharper made his second Pro Bowl after intercepting seven passes for a league high 233 interception yards in only 13 games. In 2003 he finished with 82 tackles and five interceptions. During his last season with the Packers in 2004 he totaled 70 tackles and four interceptions and led the league in defensive touchdowns with two.
On March 10, 2005 the Packers released Sharper. He finished his eight-year career in Green Bay, fifth in Packer history with 36 career interceptions, 616 tackles, six sacks, 677 interception yards, and five touchdowns.
Sharper signed with the Minnesota Vikings on March 12, 2005. Sharper made an immediate impact for the Vikings intercepting nine passes for a league high 276 interception yards and two defensive touchdowns, in only 14 games. His great play earned him a trip to his third Pro Bowl. During his second season with the Vikings in 2006 he made 67 tackles and four interceptions. On November 11, 2006 in a game against the Miami Dolphins, Sharper bumped a member of the officiating crew, but he was not immediately penalized, later the following week the NFL fined him $15,000 for the infraction.
Sharper made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in 2007, after totaling 63 tackles and four interceptions. On September 16, 2007, Sharper became the 22nd player in NFL history to intercept 50 passes. In 2008 Sharper recorded 69 tackles and one interception.
He finished his four-year career in Minnesota with 18 interceptions, 250 tackles, 359 interception yards, three touchdowns, and a sack.
New Orleans Saints
On October 4, 2009, Sharper returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown, the longest in Saints history. It was also his second 95+ yard interception return for a touchdown for the season. On October 25, Sharper returned his third interception for a touchdown on the season, a team record. At the end of Week 8, on Monday Night Football, Sharper intercepted a pass from Atlanta's Matt Ryan to help keep the Saints' perfect record. It was his seventh interception of the season. On November 30, once again on Monday Night Football, Sharper intercepted a desperation pass from New England's Tom Brady and returned it 35 yards, which left him 4 yards short of the NFL record for interception return yards in a season, set by Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens in 2004.
Sharper then broke that record in a December 27 game against Tampa Bay, intercepting Josh Freeman's pass and returning it 21 yards. This gave him 9 interceptions on the year and 376 return yards (including 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns). It was the 63rd interception of Sharper's NFL career, tying him for sixth on the all-time list. His 376 interception return yards broke the NFL single season record of 358 previously held by Ed Reed. Sharper also shares an NFL record with Deion Sanders for most games with 50+ interception return yards (9) and owns the NFL record for most games with 75+ interception return yards (6).
For his performance in 2009, Sharper was selected for his fifth Pro Bowl and as a first team All-Pro. On February 7, 2010, Sharper earned his first Super Bowl ring as the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV by a score of 31–17. Characteristic of the play of the New Orleans defense all season, the game was decided when cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted a Peyton Manning pass late in the 4th quarter and returned it 74 yards for the winning touchdown.
Sharper had micro-fracture arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during the off-season. On March 5, 2010, Sharper became an unrestricted free agent, allowing him to sign with another team. However, on May 3, Sharper re-signed with the Saints for the 2010 season. On September 3, Sharper was placed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, causing him to miss the first six weeks of the 2010 NFL season. He was activated on October 24, but he later missed another two games after a further injury. He was selected as a second team All Pro, despite having missed much of the season.
After workouts with the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Green Bay Packers without a contract offer, Sharper reportedly announced his retirement after a 14 year career. He finished with 63 career regular season interceptions, placing him sixth all time. He took 11 of them back for touchdowns, which ranks him third only to Hall of Famer Rod Woodson & Charles Woodson, with 12. Sharper's 13 career defensive touchdowns (11 interception returns, 2 fumble returns) is tied for 1st in NFL history with Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson. Sharper is the only player to ever lead the NFL in interception return yards in 3 different seasons (2002, 2005, 2009).
Life after football
After retiring, Sharper worked briefly for WWL-TV as an analyst in August 2012 before leaving to take a position with the NFL Network. On January 18, 2014, it was announced that Sharper would be suspended immediately without pay until further notice from his position at NFL Network, in light of his sexual assault charges. On February 28, 2014, Sharper was officially fired from NFL Network.
Criminal charges against Sharper began being filed in 2014 in California and Louisiana, alleging he is a serial rapist. On January 17, 2014, Sharper was arrested in Los Angeles on 2 separate counts of sexual assault. The alleged incidents are said to have happened in October 2013 and January 2014. According to USA Today, the New Orleans Police Department indicated that it also was investigating an allegation of sexual assault which was filed Sept. 24, 2013 against Sharper.
On Friday, February 14, 2014 Sharper was officially charged with two counts of rape by use of drugs and five related felony counts. Sharper was released on $200,000 bond, which at the request of the prosecution was raised to $1,000,000. Sharper has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Conditions of his bail include not to frequent any establishment that served alcohol as well as not to be alone with any women he has not had a previous relationship with prior to October 13, 2013, the date of his first alleged rape. Sharper could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
On Thursday, February 27, 2014, officials in Orleans Parish, La., filed two charges of aggravated rape against Sharper and another two counts against Erik Nunez, 26, related to the alleged September 2013 incident in New Orleans. Investigators said a second woman came forward with a complaint following an initial report shortly after the alleged rape. Louisiana law states that a person convicted of committing aggravated rape shall be punished by life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
- Paul Woody, "Hard work, confidence key Sharper’s NFL success", Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 6, 2009.
- Packers Release Darren Sharper, Sparky Hamilton. Packers.com. 03/10/2005
- Sharper stays in NFC North. Sports.espn.go.com (2005-03-12). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Vikings safety Sharper fined $15K for bumping referee. Sports.espn.go.com (2006-11-24). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Career Interception List. Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Saints Agree to Terms with Sharper. Associated Press. March 18, 2009
- Mike Triplett, "Sharper makes history", Times-Picayune, December 27, 2009.
- Mike Triplett, "Darren Sharper and New Orleans Saints agree to a 1-year deal", Times-Picayune, May 3, 2010.
- Brian Allee-Walsh, "Saints safety Darren Sharper to rejoin roster, be active for Browns game", neworleans.com, October 23, 2010.
- "Source - Darren Sharper, formerly of New Orleans Saints, set to retire - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Darren Sharper (1975-11-03). "Darren Sharper: Career Stats at". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Mike Florio, "Darren Sharper arrested for suspicion of rape," NBC Sports: Pro Football Talk, Jan. 18, 2014.
- Dillon, Nancy. "Former NFL safety Darren Sharper in Los Angeles jail, officially fired by NFL Network". NY Daily News. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- "Darren Sharper arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of rape," USA Today, Jan. 18, 2014.
- Christian Red, "Darren Sharper, former All-Pro NFL safety, charged with raping two women," New York Daily News, Feb. 14, 2014.