The NFL is going to have a lot more explaining to do, even as it continues to try to negotiate the concussion controversy and deal with domestic violence allegations made against several players over the years. Now social media is exploding at the news that convicted rapist and former NFL safety Darren Sharper has been included on this year’s list of Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees, the Associated Press reports.
Sharper, who pleaded guilty to raping at least nine women in four states and was accused by up to 16 of sexual assault, was sentenced in August to 18 years in prison.
AP notes that the Hall of Fame criteria for nomination don’t include a character clause. Based on Sharper’s on-the-field play and five Pro-Bowl appearances, the NFL believes that he should be on the list of possible selections, even if he’s currently in prison.
“This is not a character flaw, however. This is something even Sharper described at his sentencing as ‘heinous,’” Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy wrote, according to AP. “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.”
Many on social media agree and believe that Sharper shouldn’t even be eligible for HOF consideration:
If Sharper is voted into the HOF, he wouldn’t be the first controversial figure to get there—but he might be the first inductee unable to attend because he’s in prison.
AP points out that O.J. Simpson was in the HOF long before his arrest and 1995 acquittal in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Lawrence Taylor, who had several run-ins with the law for alcohol and drug abuse, was still voted into the HOF in 1999. He was arrested in 2011 for patronizing a teenage prostitute and sentenced to six years’ probation. Despite protests for the removal of both players from the HOF, they remain.
Read more at the Associated Press.