CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The inclusion of former NFL safety and convicted rapist Darren Sharper on this year’s list of Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees has created a national outcry.
Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowler, pleaded guilty in 2015 to drugging and raping up to 16 women in four states. U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced him to 18 years in prison last month.
There is no character clause to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, but that has not tempered a debate that has some Twitter members calling for an NFL boycott in the unlikely event Sharper is elected.
To be eligible for the nominating process, a player or coach must be retired for at least five years. Several more cuts remain in the process before finalists are chosen.
Messages and emails left with two Hall of Fame spokesmen were not immediately returned.
Sharper was convicted of teaming up with two other men to spike nine women’s drinks so they could rape them while the women were sedated in Louisiana, Arizona, California and Nevada.
And some can’t believe Sharper’s name is listed.
“This is not a character flaw, however. This is something even Sharper described at his sentencing as ‘heinous,'” Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy wrote after the nominees were released Thursday. “This is not someone who was mean to reporters or undermined his teammates or got in one too many bar fights. This is someone who has acknowledged he drugged women — notice the plural there — for the purpose of forcing himself on them while they were incapacitated.”
Fans don’t get it, either.
“Darren Sharper has the chance to get in the Football HOF but baseball wants to keep Rose out. I’m confused,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Sharper won a Super Bowl during a long career in Green Bay before finishing his career with stops in Minnesota and New Orleans.
Several others pro football Hall of Famers got into plenty of trouble.
One of the Hall’s most notable honorees is O.J. Simpson, who has been incarcerated in Nevada for the past eight years following a 1995 acquittal on the infamous double-murder. Despite calls for his removal more than two decades ago, Simpson is still a member of pro football’s most prestigious club.
And linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who has had a series of run-ins with the law — mostly involving drugs or alcohol — also remains in the Hall of Fame despite pleading guilty to charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute who was 16 years old. He was sentenced to six years of probation.