The NFL announced its 2016 Hall of Fame nominees, and one person on the list has raised eyebrows because he’s currently in prison after admitting to multiple sexual assaults.
There’s no doubt that six-time All-Pro safety Darren Sharper deserves consideration for his on-the-field play. But he’s also an admitted serial rapist who this year began serving a nine-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to sexual assault charges in California, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana earlier this year.
Sharper becomes eligible for the Hall for the first time, joining the list of 108 modern-era nominees, including Brett Favre and Terrell Owens, and returning finalists Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene, John Lynch and Morten Andersen — as well as coaches Don Coryell, Tony Dungy and Jimmy Johnson.
Pete Dougherty of Press-Gazette Media explains how Sharper received a nomination, and what it would take for him to be voted into the Hall:
Once a first-time eligible player is on the preliminary list, he has to be nominated by one of the 46 selectors or someone in the public at large. So at least one selector or member of the public nominated Sharper.
In November, the selectors will vote for 25 of the 108 candidates, and the 25 who get the most votes will be semifinalists. In January, we’ll vote for the top 15. Then the day before the Super Bowl the committee meets, cuts the list to 5, and votes up or down on those five for induction in the Hall.
So Sharper has a long, long way to go to even get to 25, let alone to become a finalist.
Sharper’s case is based mainly on two statistics: his 63 interceptions ties him for No. 7 on the NFL’s all-time list, and his 11 interceptions returned for touchdowns ties him for second all time.
To put that in context, of the top 10 players on the interceptions list, six are in the Hall, two (Ken Riley and Dave Brown) are not, and two haven’t been eligible (Sharper and Ed Reed).
So Sharper, based solely on that, is a viable candidate. Sharper, currently residing in jail in Louisiana, will be sentenced in December after working out a plea deal for several drug-assisted rapes in multiple states.