Former #42 on the Green Bay Packers team has gone from the heights of adulation to the depths of a prison uniform. Darren Sharper has been sentenced in New Orleans to 18 years in federal prison for drugging three women in order to rape them. He was also fined $20,000. He has been involved in similar accusations in Arizona, California, and Nevada where he pleaded no contest or guilty.
We fans idolize Packer players for their football talents and that tends to carry over to their private lives. Usually, that is appropriate, as has been demonstrated by the Bart Starrs of the world. In the case of Darren Sharper, the post-game idolization was greatly misplaced although it took public knowledge of his crimes to help us understand that we’d made such a mistake.
I wonder how many #42 Green & Gold jerseys will find their way into the garbage can as the result? Or,will those already autographed by Sharper be worth even more now than they were before this all became public knowledge? Packers’ fans are, as the contraction of the root word suggests, fanatics. Fans can do some crazy things as they address their sometimes blind belief that their sports idol is somehow larger than life.
We are all frail human beings, even those who, as professional athletes, tend to be placed on pedestals. Sometimes it seems that their access to fame and fortune makes them more susceptible to believing they are above the law, or, in this case, that even if a woman says no she really doesn’t mean ‘no’; she is only saying it because that is expected, or so people given to these needs would tell themselves.
If nothing else, this should serve as a stark reminder that each of us is only human and that, without a strong sense of right and wrong, we could find ourselves in a bad place. Even with that strong sense of right and wrong, we can still conjure up those wonderful things called ‘excuses’ to make ourselves forget right and wrong for the moment.
Rather than to spend all this time discussing Darren Sharper, I need also to recognize the victims he has left in his path and to pray they will be able to find some sense of relief with the knowledge that Darren Sharper has been found out for what he was, and has been reined in by the justice system. I pray this verdict and sentence will be of help to his other victims in the sense they can see he is being punished and that they can see they were not the only person taken advantage of in this manner.
Maybe also this sentencing will help other athletes or otherwise famous people who might have such lustful thoughts, take a deep breath or two or three and think about what they might be about to do to their futures. I can think of a particular politician whose wife is now a candidate for President of the United States who may have needed to take several more sobering deep breaths. Unfortunately, not all who may have guilt are always brought to the bar of justice. There will be an accounting required, however, even if not here and now.