Green Bay — This sight of Darren Sharper is painful. The Darren Sharper in an orange prison suit — accused of sick, demented crimes — isn't the one former teammates remember.
LeRoy Butler knew him as one of his "best friends," who treated women like royalty.
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila knew him as a jokester, a teammate who once snuck a worm into his helmet on the sideline.
Antonio Freeman played video games with Sharper. Tyrone Williams talked about the stock market with him. Coaches vow he was a tireless worker.
They never saw him as a serial rapist. And, if guilty, that may become the former Green Bay Packers safety's ultimate legacy.
"I never, ever could have imagined seeing what has allegedly happened with Darren Sharper," said Williams, his voice spiking. "I never would have seen this coming. It's mind-boggling."
If all the allegations are true, at some point this multimillionaire with the multimillion-watt smile took an awful turn.
Investigators say Sharper slipped sedatives into women's drinks, rendering them unconscious, at which point he'd rape them. When Los Angeles police arrested Sharper on Jan. 17 on suspicion of October and January rapes, they found 20 Ambien pills in his possession. Since then, he has been charged in Los Angeles with two rapes and five drug counts, indicted for two more rapes in Arizona and is under investigation in Florida, Louisiana and Nevada.
The 38-year-old Sharper has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed in Los Angeles. He has a hearing Tuesday. He faces a life sentence.
No incidents have been alleged in Wisconsin, the site of his first eight pro seasons. This is where he grew from a raw, mistake-prone rookie in 1997 to an all-pro. Teammates didn't see signs. Some have theories of how a player who supposedly had it all — money, women, a Super Bowl, a gig at NFL Network — could break so bad.
But pure shock, above all, is the prevailing emotion.
"Either way, this is going to go down as one of the worst things in NFL history," said Williams, a teammate for six seasons. "I can't think of anything to this magnitude."
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