With Men Like Darren Sharper, Some Mistakes Last A Lifetime

Some mistakes last a lifetime.

Unless you’re a former NFL player with money. Then it equals nine years…not life.

The NFL player in question is Darren Sharper. Sharper, 39, was facing many charges stemming from a series of sexual encounters he had with women in four states. Drugs, rape, assault state and federal charges awaited Sharper. If true, he faced decades behind bars.

Someone without access to Sharper’s financial resources would be staring at prison walls for the rest of his life. Luring, drugging and raping women in Arizona, California, Nevada and Louisiana instead of decades, Sharper will serve nine years. The potential was there for Sharper to serve twenty years or even longer. But Sharper’s lawyers were able to negotiate plea deals with each state as part of a ‘global plea deal’ which allows for Sharper to serve his sentences concurrently.

Although actual sentencing awaits in Louisiana and California, details of the deal were released after Sharper’s sentencing in Arizona. Sharper still faces federal drug charges in Louisiana. However, the fact remains that Sharper will most likely serve no more than nine years for, in essence, being a serial rapist.

Nine years.

Nine years of his life in prison. He serves his time and he’s done. He can go back to his old life, whatever that may be. One can only hope he will have rehabbed and changed his ways by then. His victims, on the other hand, have a life sentence. 

They are left to pick up the pieces. For the rest of their lives, they will deal with memories, images and questions. They’ll relive the what if’s and the why’s. Regardless of the circumstances that lead to their encounter with Sharper, they didn’t deserve to be drugged, raped and assaulted.

Will time heal all wounds? Some wounds are easier to heal than others. I was never drugged, raped and assaulted like these women. But I was taken advantage of – I have those memories. Memories that affect one’s ability to trust. Living in the why moment becomes a constant. It takes a toll on you mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically and relationally. Eventually, you realize that you have to take each day to borrow an overused sports-related clich…one…day…at…a…time.

I’ve met Sharper’s type. Handsome, confident, self-assured and always a smooth-talker with the ladies. They charm you with words as if they can see inside your soul. Oozing words of kindness, affection and empathy. Just enough to let your guard down. Once they get you to respond, they begin making their move. A dance, a phone number, a date, a drink anything that they can do to show you they care.

Caring enough to give you their very best. 

It all sounds very predatory. Scoping out the scene. Seeing who is protected and who might be easy-pickings. Seeing if any are tipping their hand as to their next move. I’d imagine a certain amount of predatory instinct helped Sharper on the football field too. Unfortunately, Sharper couldn’t let go of his predatory instincts. 

Will nine years change Sharper? He’ll be left to his own thoughts, for sure. But will he be remorseful when he walks out of prison? Will he be a changed man on the inside and turn from his predatory ways? Will he be welcomed back with open arms by NFL fans? 

Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald still have fans despite Twitter outrage at their incidents. The outrage levied toward those players has far exceeded anything said, tweeted or posted about Sharper. Abuse is abuse. What Sharper did was a form of abuse. But if these players still have fans, it’s not that far-fetched to think that Sharper does too…and will continue to upon his release.

Twenty years becomes nine.

One night becomes life.