Former NFL safety Darren Sharper appears in Los Angeles Superior Court in February 2014. (Bob Chamberlin/Pool/Getty Images)
Update, April 11, 2015: This story was updated to include comments from Peter King.
Darren Sharper has secured his place in prison over the next nine years for raping women across the U.S. It now remains to be seen whether the former National Football League star defensive back can simultaneously achieve criminal infamy and the highest honor of his profession, a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sharper, who has so far pleaded guilty or no contest to charges of rape, attempted rape and drugging women in California, Arizona and Nevada, is eligible for enshrinement in the hall next year. Based solely on his in-game performance across 14 seasons for the Packers, Vikings and Saints, he is a legitimate candidate. Sharper is tied for seventh on the league’s list for career interceptions, and he was twice selected for the Associated Press All-Pro First Team. He was also a key player on the team that earned the New Orleans Saints their only Super Bowl win in 2010.
Those deemed worthy of the Hall of Fame are selected by a committee of 46 members of the media who typically choose between three and eight retired players for entry each year. The hall’s bylaws explicitly state that voters, called “selectors,” are only supposed to consider a candidate’s on-field performance and characteristics when deciding whom to enshrine.
Earlier this year, Peter King, a leading football writer for Sports Illustrated and a Hall of Fame voter, argued on Twitter that Sharper deserves consideration. “If I said, ‘I will not consider Sharper for induction because he has been accused of multiple rapes,’ I would resign from the committee,” King wrote.
In an interview Friday afternoon, King said his position doesn’t signal support for Sharper or his candidacy. “It seems preposterous to consider Sharper for the hall of fame,” he said.
The Hall of Fame’s board of trustees includes six National Football League team owners, and is seen largely as an extension of the league. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is also on the hall’s board.
ProPublica sought to interview Goodell about whether the league could take action to exclude Sharper from consideration. The commissioner’s office referred questions to Brian McCarthy, a league spokesman, who did not return multiple calls and emails. The Hall of Fame directed interview requests to Joe Horrigan, its in-house historian on the selection process, who also did not respond to inquiries.
Before Sharper admitted his guilt, TMZ reported that Horrigan’s position was that as long as a player has been retired for five years and has made at least one All-Pro team, he is eligible; while voters could take his criminal history into consideration, they are not supposed to.
Some voters, however, say they can’t simply disregard what they know.
“Off the field is not supposed to count, but I would feel disgusting if I voted for him,” said Jason Cole, an NFL writer for Bleacher Report and Hall of Fame selector. “There’s a certain point where you can’t separate the two. And he crossed that line.”
Others say they will suspend judgment — for now.
Sal Paolantonio, an ESPN national correspondent and a Hall of Fame selector, said: “I am very respectful of the selection process and I will not pass judgment on a player’s credentials for the Hall of Fame until I hear the presentation in the annual selection meeting, if Mr. Sharper should ever become a finalist. I think, however, that there are other safeties – John Lynch, Brian Dawkins – that deserve consideration before Mr. Sharper.”
The extent to which a player’s character should influence his selection to the Hall of Fame has roiled baseball for years. Cheaters and racists and convicted felons are in the hall. But Pete Rose was barred from consideration by then Commissioner Bart Giamatti because he had gambled on baseball. Rob Manfred, the newly named commissioner, has agreed to take up a review of Rose’s decades-long effort to have Major League Baseball’s ban rescinded.
Lawrence Taylor, considered by many the finest linebacker ever to play, was suspended several times by the NFL for failing drug tests. Taylor nonetheless won entry to the Hall of Fame in 1999, the first year he was eligible. In 2011, Taylor pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct involving a 16-year-old girl.
In Sharper’s case, voters will know his criminal history before considering him for entry into a sport’s Hall of Fame. Sharper is expected to plead guilty in Louisiana and in federal court to still more charges in the days or weeks ahead.
This week, ProPublica and the New Orleans Advocate published a two-month investigation outlining the police failure to stop Sharper’s spree of raping women, many of them rendered unconscious by drugs he gave them.
The issue of violence against women, which has been a perennial problem for the NFL and its players, exploded over the last year. When Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his then fiancee unconscious in an elevator last year, Goodell initially suspended Rice only for two games. The commissioner received fierce criticism for the light penalty, and reversed course after a video of the assault became public. The NFL ultimately adopted new policies and hired sex crimes consultants to help it navigate the issue in the future.
Paolantonio said the moment may be ripe for the Hall of Fame process to be revisited as well.
“In light of the long overdue renewed emphasis on player conduct by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association, I think there should be an open and honest discussion and debate about whether the Hall of Fame’s by-laws should be reconsidered,” he said. “And I think the league and the players would welcome that debate and should be part of it.”
However, King said he opposes a rule change that would block felons from enshrinement because it could subject candidates to the sometimes arbitrary variances in criminal law, with offenses that are misdemeanors in one place counting as felonies in another. He added that the hall does not ask voters, “people who cover football for a living,” to weigh which crimes are heinous and which tolerable. Nor does he believe he and his colleagues are equipped to make that kind of judgement.
Related coverage: For more about how police failed to stop Darren Sharper’s cross-country rape spree, read the full investigation. Also, see the details of Sharper’s plea agreement and read a QA with reporters on the story.
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The associated Press contributed to end up being able to this report.
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A brown bear and the woman’s cubs. (Explore.org)
The each day actions involving brown bears from Alaska’s Katmai National Park & Preserve are usually captured upon camera and streamed live online. (Explore.org)
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A brown bear in Alaska eats any salmon. (Explore.org)
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John J. DiIulio Jr. will become the author involving Godly Republic: The Centrist Blueprint pertaining to America’s Faith-Based future (Univ. regarding California Press, 2007).
Thereafter, throughout communications with me along with other Penn colleagues, Jim Kelly, C.E.O. of Catholic Charities regarding New Orleans, laid down a civic marker: If Penn would create a five-year commitment to service-learning inside the city, Catholic Charities would co-sponsor internships as well as other initiatives using Penn there.
It has been three-and-a-half years since biblical-sized floods blanketed the big Easy. Poverty, crime as well as other ills that were bad just before could always be unhealthy or worse there today. Cost-effective housing, wellness care as well as other basic human requirements are usually far from well met. Many Hispanic immigrants involved with hazardous clean-up or even construction jobs carry on to become exploited http://galleryhost.org/ through unscrupulous employers.
An elite secular university or college positioned 1,100 miles away working in tandem having a Catholic nonprofit? Kelly termed your improbable secular-religious civic partnership “a covenant to be able to serve.” Its early fruits are usually captured inside a video with this title on a Penn Internet website (www.foxleadership.org).
As on my prior post-Katrina trips, I won’t end up being alone. over 100 springtime student-volunteers in the College associated with Pennsylvania will be along with me. Although Penn is actually a proudly nonsectarian Ivy League university, founded by simply Benjamin Franklin, it boasts undergraduate student religious lifestyle organizations which make to get a marvelous faith-based mosaic: Jewish students with almost all the Hillel Center, Catholic students with the Newman center as well as http://galleryhost.org/ over a dozen additional groups. I am proud in which since September 2005, these teams along with other Penn undergraduates and current graduates get devoted more than 1,000 weeks involving service inside post-Katrina New Orleans.
So does official Washington’s shameful, nearly surreal failure for you to rush sources towards the rescue. Your disaster’s predominantly African-American, low-income victims were not handled as fellow citizens. A Amount Of politicians along with journalists even latched onto calling these suddenly homeless Americans “refugees.”
Maybe the partnership isn’t thus improbable after all. Franklin began Philadelphia’s 1st library company, creating the Latin motto that translates thus: “To pour forth benefits for that typical good is actually divine.” Penn’s founder emphasized deeds over words. He ended up being furthermore for supporting virtually any faith that will forged great works.
As Kelly provides consequently eloquently stated, the covenant isn’t among secular Penn and also its Catholic partners, but among each of which and the individuals whose lives were shattered and shuttered by the floods, those who now aim to rebuild their own town along with reclaim their communities.
Still, New Orleans now has about three-fourths associated with its pre-Katrina population. Even during these poor economic times, its economy will be jazzy and growing. Its natives’ infectiously warm hospitality as well as inimitable civic spirit have been revived. Its struggling Hispanic residents get due in order to the historic city’s demographic gumbo its 1st mighty 21st-century stirring. Volunteer-saints coming from just about all throughout the Usa even now go marching in to help.
As I compose this, I am fourteen days far from creating my 14th vacation to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. I am reflecting on how inside late August 2005, four-fifths of the town was flooded when three poorly-built levees broke beneath Katrina’s blows. The Actual resulting death and devastation produced grim headlines worldwide.
Were it not for heroics through the U.S. Coast Guard, Katrina’s first human, property along with financial toll would have been significantly worse. Along With were it certainly not pertaining to nonprofit organizations, ranging from small http://galleryhost.org/ local congregations in order to citywide operations just like Catholic Charities associated with New Orleans, your post-Katrina process of healing would have moved even slower.
The covenant continues. starting this summer, five current Penn graduates will most likely be working full amount associated with period in New Orleans about different Catholic Charities community-serving projects.
But my Penn pride here furthermore straight touches my Catholic identity. Speaking with Penn’s Wharton University of Company in Oct. 14, 2005, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes involving New Orleans energized the particular predominantly non-Catholic crowd simply by telling how the archdiocese ended up being opening its arms and its schools to poor youngsters of each faith and also regarding simply no faith. Non-Catholic colleagues who have by zero means held a brief for your church were moved (in several cases to become able to tears) through the soft-spoken archbishop.
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