Sharper in 2011
|Date of birth:||November 3, 1975|
|Place of birth:||Richmond, Virginia|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||220 lb (100 kg)|
|High school:||Henrico (VA) Hermitage|
|College:||William & Mary|
|NFL draft:||1997 / Round: 2 / Pick: 60|
|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. He finished his career with 63 interceptions, 6th on the NFL's all-time leader list at the time of his retirement. In August 2016, Sharper was sentenced by a federal judge to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the use of drugs with intent to commit rape.
Sharper has an older sister, Monica, and an older brother, Jamie. The Sharpers attended Hermitage High School in Henrico County, Virginia. Jamie played for the high school football team as a linebacker. Darren played for the varsity football and basketball teams. He was named to the honor roll, had perfect attendance in three of his four years, and was active in the foreign language club and student council. Hermitage honored Sharper with a display on their "Wall of Fame". Sharper graduated from Hermitage in 1993.
Sharper attended the College of William and Mary, where he played for the William & Mary Tribe football team. In high school, Sharper 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.
Sharper's college awards and honors include:
- 3× First-team All-Yankee (1994–1996)
- 2× I-AA All-American (1995–1996)
- Yankee Conference Defensive P.O.Y. (1996)
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers selected Sharper 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 three.
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
An unrestricted free agent after the 2008 season, Sharper signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on March 18, 2009. 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 Charles Woodson and Hall of Famer Rod 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).
WWL-TV and NFL Network
In August 2012, after retiring, Sharper worked briefly for WWL-TV as an analyst before leaving to take a position with NFL Network. On January 18, 2014, it was announced that Sharper has been suspended, without pay, from his position at NFL Network until further notice. The suspension was a result of sexual assault charges against him. On February 28, 2014, Sharper was officially fired from NFL Network.
Convictions of rape and drug distribution
Criminal charges against Sharper began being filed in 2014 in Arizona, California, and Louisiana, alleging he is a serial rapist. On January 17, 2014, Sharper was arrested in Los Angeles on two separate counts of sexual assault. The alleged incidents were 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 a sexual assault allegation which was filed September 24, 2013, against Sharper.
On 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 pleaded not guilty to the charges. Conditions of his bail required him not to frequent any drinking establishment, as well as not to be alone with any women he had no relationship with prior to October 13, 2013, the date of his first alleged rape. Sharper faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Officials in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, filed two charges of aggravated rape against Sharper and another two counts against Erik Nunez, 26, on February 27, 2014, 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 aggravated rape shall be punished by life imprisonment at hard labor, without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Also on February 27, 2014, Sharper surrendered to the police in Los Angeles after an arrest warrant was issued by the authorities in Louisiana. He had been held without bail since.
On December 12, 2014, an Orleans Parish grand jury indicted Sharper on two counts of aggravated rape, stating that, if convicted, he will face a mandatory life sentence. On the same day, a federal grand jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana returned an indictment for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance (1 count) and distribution of a controlled substance (2 counts).
On March 12, 2015, Sharper was charged with sexual assault in Arizona. Under Arizona state law, a person commits sexual assault by knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with another person without that person's consent. No consent was given if the victim was incapable of consenting by reason of drugs, alcohol, sleep, or a similar impairment, and such impairment was known or should have been known to the defendant.
On March 20, 2015, Sharper was charged with two sexual assaults in Las Vegas. The purported crimes took place in January 2014 and involved two women. Nevada state legislation provides that a person subjecting another person to sexual penetration against that person's will, or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of the perpetrator's conduct, is guilty of sexual assault. The notion of sexual penetration includes sexual intercourse in its ordinary meaning. Later on March 20, Sharper's lawyer said that Sharper had reached a plea agreement to resolve all of the charges against him. He appeared in court in Los Angeles on March 23 to enter guilty pleas to sexual assault in Arizona, by video-conferencing, and no contest in California to raping two women he knocked out with a potent sedative mixed with alcohol. The Arizona judge sentenced him immediately to nine years in prison, with no chance for early release.
On March 24, 2015, Sharper pleaded guilty, in federal court, to conspiracy to distribute Alprazolam, Diazepam and Zolpidem, with intent to commit rape and two counts of distributing these substances with intent to commit rape. He accepted a nine-year sentence in a plea deal for all charges against him, in addition to the year he had served already. However, on February 18, 2016, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo rejected the deal saying, "This court cannot accept this plea agreement", and noted that a federal pre-sentence report called for a range of 15–20 years. On March 22, 2016, judge Triche-Milazzo approved a new deal under which the length of the prison term will follow the above guidelines.
On August 18, 2016, Sharper was sentenced to 220 months of incarceration, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a $20,000 fine. Once out of prison, he must register as a sex offender and comply with a "sex treatment condition", as part of the 3-year supervision program. Court records list the total of 9 victims involved, nationwide. But, according to the judge, there may be as many as 16.
Two accomplices — Brandon Licciardi, of Meraux, Louisiana, and Erik Nunez, of New Orleans — pleaded guilty in connection with the alleged drug-and-rape plot. Licciardi is a former sheriff's deputy in the New Orleans suburb of St. Bernard Parish.
On February 27, 2014, Nunez was arrested and charged, in state court, with two counts of aggravated rape purportedly taking place in September 2013 in New Orleans.
On December 12, 2014, Licciardi was indicted by a federal grand jury on six criminal counts including tampering with a witness (2 counts), impeding an investigation, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and distribution of a controlled substance (2 counts).
On July 24, 2015, Nunez was federally charged with conspiracy to impede an investigation. On July 11, 2016, in exchange for a 10-year sentence, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances without victim's knowledge and with the intent to commit a sexual battery.
On July 15, 2016, Licciardi pleaded guilty, before the same judge, to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances with the intent to commit crimes of violence, including rape. He agreed to a 17-year prison sentence.
The pleas before judge Triche-Milazzo resolved all pending charges against both individuals.
Hall of Fame consideration
On April 13, 2015, Sharper was removed from the William & Mary Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 2016, he became eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, leading to a debate as to whether his criminal convictions disqualify him. Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, who is on the Hall of Fame voting committee, has said that Sharper must be considered because voters are prohibited from taking off-field issues into account.
- "Ex-NFL star Darren Sharper gets 18 years in federal prison". Associated Press. August 18, 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- Johnson, Dave (October 1, 1994). "Oh Brother, What A Game: W&m Plays Virginia In A Family Affair". Daily Press. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- Laken Litman, USA TODAY Sports (April 15, 2014). "Sharper's high school faces decision on 'tarnished' hero". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
- Paul Woody, "Hard work, confidence key Sharper’s NFL success", Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 6, 2009.[dead link]
- Packers Release Darren Sharper, Sparky Hamilton. Packers.com. October 3, 2005
- Sharper stays in NFC North. Sports.espn.go.com (March 12, 2005). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Vikings safety Sharper fined $15K for bumping referee. Sports.espn.go.com (November 24, 2006). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Career Interception List. Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved on November 17, 2011.
- 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.
- Mike Triplett, "Darren Sharper is off the PUP list, and back with the New Orleans Saints", Times-Picayune, October 21, 2010.
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- "Former St. Bernard Deputy Sheriff and Former Saints Player Indicted For Drug Distribution and Obstruction Charges". US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana. US Department of Justice. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
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- "13-1406. Sexual assault; classification; increased punishment". azleg.state.az.us. Arizona State Legislature. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
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- "13-1401. Definitions; factors". azleg.state.az.us. Arizona State Legislature. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
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- "Former St. Bernard Parish Deputy Pleads Guilty in Darren Sharper Matter". US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana. US Department of Justice. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- "Superseding Indictment Returned Against Former St. Bernard Deputy Sheriff And Second Individual For Drug Distribution And Obstruction Charges". US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana. Department of Justice. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- "Darren Sharper removed from his college's Hall of Fame - ProFootballTalk".
- Ryan Gabrielson. "For Darren Sharper, a Place in Prison. But in Hall of Fame, Too?". ProPublica.
- Drew Magary. "Peter King Defends Hall Of Fame's Right To Honor Alleged Serial Rapist". Deadspin.
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