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Darren Sharper
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Darren Sharper during the Vikings 2008 Training Camp.
No. 42     
Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1975-11-03) November 3, 1975 (age 42)
Place of birth: Richmond, Virginia
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
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 history
* Green Bay Packers ( 1997 2004)
Career highlights and awards
* 5× Pro Bowl (2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2010
Tackles     635
Quarterback sacks     7.5
Interceptions     63
Interception return TDs     11
Stats at NFL.com

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, and has also played for the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Sharper is a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.

Early yearsEdit

Sharper attended Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia, graduating in 1993.[1]

College careerEdit

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.[1] 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 honorsEdit

  • 3× First-team All-Yankee (1994–1996)
  • I-AA All-American (1995–1996)
  • Yankee Conference Defensive P.O.Y. (1996)

Professional careerEdit

Green Bay PackersEdit

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.[2]

Minnesota VikingsEdit

Sharper signed with the Minnesota Vikings on March 12, 2005.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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 SaintsEdit

2009 seasonEdit

An unrestricted free agent after the 2008 season, Sharper signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on March 18, 2009.[6]

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 would have 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, but the interception was called back due to a penalty.

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.[7] 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. Characteristically of the play of 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.

2010 seasonEdit

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.[8] 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,[9] 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.

RetirementEdit

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.[10] Sharper is the only player to ever lead the NFL in interception return yards in 3 different seasons (2002, 2005, 2009).

Life after footballEdit

After retiring, Sharper did some work for both ESPN and NFL Network as an analyst. He'll join WWL-TV in New Orleans as an analyst for the New Orleans Saints beginning in August. [Link]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Woody, "Hard work, confidence key Sharper’s NFL success", Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 6, 2009.
  2. Packers Release Darren Sharper, Sparky Hamilton. Packers.com. 03/10/2005
  3. Sharper stays in NFC North. Sports.espn.go.com (2005-03-12). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
  4. Vikings safety Sharper fined $15K for bumping referee. Sports.espn.go.com (2006-11-24). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
  5. Career Interception List. Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
  6. Saints Agree to Terms with Sharper. Associated Press. March 18, 2009
  7. Mike Triplett, "Sharper makes history", Times-Picayune, December 27, 2009.
  8. Mike Triplett, "Darren Sharper and New Orleans Saints agree to a 1-year deal", Times-Picayune, May 3, 2010.
  9. Brian Allee-Walsh, "Saints safety Darren Sharper to rejoin roster, be active for Browns game", neworleans.com, October 23, 2010.
  10. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7292298/source-darren-sharper-formerly-new-orleans-saints-set-retire

External linksEdit