Darren Sharper is part of New Orleans Saints lore. The image of him with his finger in the air signaling No. 1 as teammate Tracy Porter returns a late-game interception for a touchdown is one of the lasting impressions from Super Bowl XLIV.
But Sharper is also a confessed serial rapist, and that's clearly something nobody wants to celebrate.
For that reason, the Saints have decided to remove the giant banner photo of that iconic image of Sharper and Porter from the Champions Square area outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during renovations this off-season.
“It’s common sense," team executive Ben Hales said Monday. "We don’t even want the perception that that’s an individual we’re celebrating.”
But his image unraveled early last year when he was arrested on suspicion of rape. He went on to be charged with sexual assault and other related crimes in California, Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona.
In March, Sharper reached a “global resolution” to end all claims in all jurisdictions, agreeing to plead guilty or no contest to committing or attempting to commit sexual assault against multiple women. He is expected to serve nine years in federal prison.
Meanwhile the Saints are trying to move on from the ugly situation -- and unfortunately that means removing the image of a cherished memory from outside their stadium.
“The shame of it is, that’s an iconic moment from the Super Bowl," Hales said. "People can probably do the TV and radio call in their head. There just happens to be somebody in the background who is not someone our organization or the NFL Network is likely to be celebrating.”