Canton-Bound: Is New Orleans Saints' Darren Sharper a Hall-Of-Famer?

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IJuly 13, 2010

New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper (42) during an NFL football game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Thirteen NFL seasons and he's still among the best. That alone should tell you something about Darren Sharper's Canton credentials, but if that's not enough, there's more.

A lot more.

Interceptions are probably the most important statistic for defensive backs, and Sharper ranks high on the list. He leads all active players and is tied for sixth all-time with Ronnie Lott in career thefts.

Lott, plus four of the five players ahead of him, are in the Hall of Fame.

Sharper is the only player in NFL history with three years of nine or more interceptions, and last year became the oldest player (34) to make nine picks.

Not only does he take the ball away from the other team, but he does something with it. No one, not even Deion Sanders, Ed Reed, or Darrell Green, has more than his 13 defensive touchdowns and only the great Rod Woodson has as many.

Sharper has been on two teams that were in the Super Bowl, the 1997 Green Bay Packers and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, and he had three touchdowns in each of those seasons.

Sharper has led the league in interception return yardage three times and those are three of the top 30 seasons in NFL history, including an NFL record 376 yards in 2009.

One of the hallmarks of players in the Hall of Fame is that they were considered among the best at their position for several seasons, and Sharper certainly fits the bill there. He has been recognized five times by the Associated Press as a first or second-team All-Pro.

His longevity has also been impressive.

He has been a full-time starter every year since his second season, and has never missed more than three games in any season. Sharper has played in 15 or 16 games in nine of his thirteen seasons.

Barring a major injury or a huge setback in his recovery from offseason knee surgery, Sharper will play in his 200th career game this year.

Regardless if this is Darren Sharper's last NFL season or he has two or three left, he has already proven to be among the all-time elite.