Darren Sharper, besides being one of the best NFL safeties of his generation, is a multi-dimensional man off the field. He has dabbled in comedy routines—mainly performing for teammates and family members—and has keen interests in traveling the world and broadcasting. The Super Bowl champion while with the New Orleans Saints discusses his off-field interests in this wide-ranging interview with Khalil Garriott.
Q: What types of activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
A: I travel a lot. I go to different cities and countries; I’ve been to a lot of different places. I like to visit different cultures and different countries. I also try and get out and play golf, and I do the beach thing a lot. I also do all the water sports.
Q: What’s the coolest place that you have been?
A: South America was very nice. I like the energy down there. I like Europe, too, because it kind of has a New York-type feel to it—all the buildings and structures—and it has a lot of history over there.
Q: Soccer is huge in Europe. Are you a big soccer fan?
A: Yeah. When I went to Europe to broadcast NFL Europe (now defunct) games, I had a really good time watching the soccer games. I went to a couple of soccer games when I was in Europe and South America, so I’m a big fan of Euro soccer.
Q: So what’s the real football? Is it the American kind or what they call it over there (fùtbol)?
A: I’d have to say American. Football is football and soccer is soccer. The biggest sport in the world is soccer, but we’ll steal the real football.
Q: What countries have you been to in South America?
A: Brazil, Venezuela, Costa Rica (but that is Central America) and is really nice.
Q: How about in Europe?
A: I’ve been to Frankfurt, Germany; Dusseldorf, Germany; Berlin, Germany; and Amsterdam.
Q: Which parts of those places did you like and dislike?
A: Frankfurt was really nice. I liked the fact that they were big football fans over there. Berlin isn’t too spectacular, though.
Q: Would you ever consider bringing your standup comedy act to these places?
A: No, I wouldn’t. I’m not that funny.
Q: You’ve got to work on it, right?
A: (Laughing) No, I think I’ll stick with my day job.
Q: What’s your main passion in life?
A: Family is always first. I have good children—a son and a daughter—so family is always going to be my No. 1 passion over my job of football.
Q: Tell me about your interest in broadcasting. Do you still want to go into that when you are finished with football?
A: Yes, I definitely want to do that. I want to be able to stay around the game. It’s just a matter of giving the fans a different perspective. You’ve got a lot of guys who have played the game, but I think I can give them a different look and certain things that they see in the game. It’s also good because you get to stay around football and I love to watch football when I’m not playing it, so it will give me a chance to be around it when I’m not playing.
I had a chance to do NFL Europe games and I also called some high school games in Wisconsin, so I have had a chance to do a lot of work calling football games—being a color analyst.
Q: Is there a broadcaster you have admired over the years?
A: I would say from a football side of things, John Madden. He kind of set the framework of how to be a color analyst and then also taking it to different avenues of society as far as being a spokesperson for this and that, and also with his video game. Outside of football, Marv Albert was a guy I liked before his incidents. Marv Albert was always an energetic broadcaster and a good guy.
Q: As a Richmond, Va., native, what is it about Virginia that you miss?
A: Well, my hometown is my hometown. There are a lot of people there that are real people. They grew up with humble beginnings and a lot of them are hard-working people that you know will help you whenever you need help. There are a lot of people that are nice and don’t go around and try and have an attitude and walk past you without saying hello. The atmosphere is soothing and a lot of people are real good, down-home folks. That’s why I always like to go back, because family seems to be stressed a lot more in my hometown and in Virginia than a lot of places I have been.
Q: Many players have told me about a defining moment when they realized that they had a chance to be really good at football. Did you ever have one of those moments in your life?
A: I would say it was my first day when I started in the league. I started in the secondary as a rookie and I returned an interception 50-something yards on Thursday night football. It was the first pick of my career and I returned it for a touchdown. It kind of told me that I could do some good things in the league and that I could definitely play.