Los Angeles — Former NFL star Darren Sharper was sentenced Tuesday to a 20-year prison term, ending a tour of shame and punishment in the courthouse where he first admitted drugging and raping women in four states.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor denounced Sharper’s “horrible conduct” and “disgraceful abuse of trust” during the hearing that concluded prosecutions that unmasked the popular former all-pro safety and Super Bowl champion as a serial rapist.
Under the terms of a plea deal negotiated with prosecutors in four states, Sharper will be eligible for parole in about eight years because California law requires he serve half his sentence. He already has been behind bars more than two years since his arrest.
But he probably will serve more time if an appeals court upholds an 18-year prison sentence handed down by a New Orleans federal judge who rejected the deal as too lenient.
Sharper has appealed that harsher sentence.
The 41-year-old Sharper sat quietly in court in orange jail scrubs and never addressed the court or two emotional victims who spoke about evenings where he secretly slipped drugs in their shot glasses and insisted they drink.
“I started vomiting, my head was pounding and I had trouble seeing clearly,” said one victim, who said her rape Jan. 15, 2014 was “the worst night of my life.”
The second woman, identified as Jane Doe 4, was with a friend when they were drugged by Sharper in his hotel room in 2013, hours after they met at a Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary party.
Sharper retired from the league in 2011 after a 14-year career with the Packers, the Vikings and, finally, in New Orleans with the Saints, where he won a Super Bowl.
The NFL will start games played in London at 1 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. London time, next season, according to a report.
The games had been starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
... The NFL suspended Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson 10 games for what the player’s agent said stems from his client using marijuana to relieve the effects of Crohn’s disease.
Henderson’s agent, Brian Fettner, called the league’s decision “heart breaking,” and added he cannot appeal the suspension because NFL officials don’t allow an exemption for medical marijuana use.
Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III has been cleared for contact, paving the way for him to play again this season.
Griffin has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his left shoulder late in the Sept. 11 opener against the Eagles. He returned to practice last week, but still had to pass another medical test to make sure his injury had healed enough to absorb hits.
“Beyond blessed to have an opportunity to get back on the field with my brothers,” Griffin said through a Browns spokesman.
The Browns (0-12) have a bye this week, but Griffin will likely start the Dec. 11 game against the Bengals.
... Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is moving forward in the recovery from surgery on his right knee.
Peterson ran some short sprints in the team’s indoor facility, while the athletic training staff supervised and his teammates went through practice. With five games remaining in the regular season, there’s no timetable for Peterson’s return, but the four-time All-Pro pick still could be ready for action sometime in December.
“He looked good to me,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “I’m just amazed at the things that he can do.”
The Vikings trail the Lions by one game in the NFC North. Detroit swept the season series.
... The Panthers placed center Ryan Kalil (shoulder) and his primary backup Gino Gradkowski (knee) on injured reserve.
Carolina signed free agent center Ryan Wendell and offensive tackle Dan France (Michigan State) from the Browns practice squad.