Nick Collins Injury: Is Darren Sharper a Viable Replacement for Green Bay?

Matt SteinCorrespondent IISeptember 20, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 10:  Free Safety Darren Sharper #42 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2002 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 40-14.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

With news that Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins will miss the remainder of the season with a neck injury, the entire state of Wisconsin instantly fell into a state of depression. It wasn't quite worthy of flags flying at half mass, but it was pretty close.

Now with a day for the news to settle in, the question of who will replace Collins needs to be asked. Are Charlie Peprah or rookie M.D. Jennings going to be capable of replacing one of the better safeties in the NFL?

While trying to figure out how this injury will affect the Green Bay Packers defense, one name kept popping into my mind. That name was Darren Sharper.

Is Darren Sharper a viable replacement for Nick Collins and the Packers?

The short answer to this question is yes. Of course, the long answer to this question is yes also, but it will take a little convincing for true Packers' fans to get there.

After an impressive eight year career with Green Bay, Sharper went on to do something that is considered unforgivable; he went to play for the Minnesota Vikings. That's right, Sharper left us for one of our most hated rivals.

What made us so angry about this is that he flourished in Minnesota and was a member of two All-Pro Teams and was invited to two Pro Bowls. It was extremely difficult to watch one of our greatest safeties play for the enemy and do well. 

However, we now have a bigger problem than grudges and that is our chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions faded fast. The secondary already had issues with Collins in the lineup and now without, one can only imagine how many passing yards we will give up to Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler.

Without Sharper, we may be okay. Jennings is a promising rookie and Peprah has been able to step in before and play well, but neither of those players have the experience as Sharper. Even in his old age, Sharper is probably a better option than any of the safeties currently on the Packers' roster.

I'm not asking that we wash Sharper clean of his sins, but rather that for the next 14 games of the regular season we simply choose to not remember what he did to us. We push our hatred aside for the good of the team and cheer for him as he takes an interception and returns it for a touchdown.

All I ask is that when Sharper attempts a Lambeau Leap, we don't push him back down, but we embrace him as one of our own. All I ask is that we love him as he helps us retain that sweet, sweet Lombardi Trophy.