Former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper, who is being held in a California prison without bail and has been accused of drugging and raping numerous women in different states, also is fighting a legal battle in Louisiana against his former team.
Court records show an attorney for Sharper will appear in front of the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal on Thursday as part of a three-year dispute between Sharper and the Saints over a worker’s compensation claim.
Sharper is suing the Saints, claiming he became “disabled” from a lingering left knee injury that he initially suffered on Nov., 8, 2009, in a game against the Carolina Panthers in the Superdome.
Sharper’s attorney, Frank Bruno, wrote in court filings that Sharper reinjured the knee numerous times, including during the Saints’ 2011 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Bruno said Sharper was hurt during Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard run in which Lynch barreled through the Saints’ secondary and clinched the game for the Seahawks.
The game was Sharper’s last in the NFL.
The Saints declined to re-sign Sharper in 2012. He worked out for the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, neither of whom offered him a contract. He then retired.
Both parties agreed Sharper was injured in 2010. But Sharper claimed he also was injured during the 2011 season and that it was those injuries that inhibited his playmaking ability and forced him out of the NFL.
“I didn’t feel like I could make the plays I could in the past,” he testified during a hearing in June 2013 in front of Diane Lundeen, a worker’s compensation judge.
Attorneys for the Saints said Sharper never notified the team’s medical staff of any injuries suffered during the Seahawks game.
Sharper told the judge he was “too distraught” after the loss to bring it up.
The Saints denied Sharper had to retire because of his knee injury and instead suggested he simply was too old to play in the NFL. “The fact of the matter is that Sharper’s 14-year career had concluded,” they wrote.
Lundeen ruled against Sharper, awarding him only $2,000 in penalties due to the fact that the Saints didn’t authorize treatment related to his injury.
It’s unclear from the court filings exactly how much money Sharper thinks he is owed.
Worker’s compensation includes “permanent disability benefits,” which are provided if an employee with a work-related injury doesn’t recover completely and the injury causes a permanent loss of physical or mental function.
Though Sharper retired from football, he quickly found work as a TV analyst. According to court records, he was making $250,000 annually from the NFL Network before his contract was terminated because of the rape allegations against him.
He also was paid $50,000 by WWL-TV in 2012 to provide football commentary.
Worker’s compensation claims by NFL players are common, and Sharper’s appeal discusses a handful of previous claims filed by Saints players.
The issue drew attention this summer when the Saints ended up sparking the ire of quarterback Drew Brees. The team advocated for a bill in the Legislature that would have mandated judges to use players’ current weekly salary and not their projected salary when determining benefits.
Brees made an appearance in the Legislature opposing the bill, and it was scrapped.
If Sharper does have success at the appellate level, it’s likely that whatever damages he receives will be used to help foot his mounting legal bills.
He has been indicted on rape charges in both California and Arizona. An arrest warrant has been issued over an alleged rape in New Orleans, and Las Vegas officials are investigating a possible rape there as well.