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Updated: February 16th, 2014 12:03pm
P.J.R.: Sharper news most-shocking of a sports media career

P.J.R.: Sharper news most-shocking of a sports media career

by Patrick Reusse
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Lying is an art form in the world of sports. NFL general managers brag about using such deceit with the media to dupe other teams into changing their strategies for the draft or free agency.

For instance, the Vikings' Rick Spielman said on Friday that quarterback Christian Ponder will be with the Purple in the season ahead. There's an outside chance he might have been telling the truth.

Then again, a year ago he was telling the media and the public the Vikings had no plans to trade Percy Harvin, and everyone knew there was zero chance he was telling the truth that time.

Such deceits are harmless in the big picture.

I've been duped far more seriously through the years. Example: There was one gentleman close to the operation of several local sports teams who seemed a legitimate source, and was later exposed to be a pathological liar.

That wasn't nearly as harmless, but neither did it change the way I look at the condition of the human race.

I'm not sure I can make that claim today as the horrendous charges against Darren Sharper continue to be revealed.

Three decades ago, the Royals and the Cardinals were competing in the 1985 World Series, and a blown call by umpire Don Denkinger propelled the Royals to a victory in Game 6, and then starting pitcher Joaquin Andujar and manager Whitey Herzog were ejected in the first inning of the Royals' blowout victory in Game 7.

Asked about this mess, Andujuar famously ran three words together: "Youneverknow.''

That has been my philosophy in covering the people from the world of sports: "Youneverknow.''

Yet, in the case of Sharper, I certainly thought that I knew at least a little something.

For the past two NFL seasons, Sharper was the Friday guest on the "Talking Purple'' segment of the Reusse + Mackey Show. All of us - Phil, producer Cory Roufs, me - came to love those segments with "Sharp.''

It started a bit slow, as Sharper spewed mostly cliches, but by about week 4 in 2012 he had loosened up, and combined great storytelling with outstanding insights. By the middle of that season, we were offering the ultimate compliment after those interviews.

"He's almost as good as Herm,'' meaning Herm Edwards, our admired guest on the Wednesday segment of Talking Purple.

The rape accusations against Sharper started to surface last month. On Friday, he was charged by the district attorney's office in Los Angeles with drugging and raping two women - one in October and another in January in Los Angeles.

There is also a rape investigation in New Orleans, and the L.A. district attorney office revealed Friday that Sharper's being looked at for two more possible rapes in Los Angeles, as well as possible rapes in Nevada and Los Angeles.

"Youneverknow'' doesn't come close to the reaction required to the news that Darren Sharper is now facing charges in what prosecutors are outlining as a case of serial rape.

Beyond horror, I don't know truly what the reaction should be, but I know for sure it can't be what I've heard from some younger gents in the past few days:

"Why would Sharper do this? He's 38, a recent NFL star, handsome ... getting together with women could not have been a problem.''

Are we this stupid as a gender, to think that if Sharper turns out to be a serial rapist, it had anything to do with being able to get dates?

I can say this emphatically:

If the charges against Sharper prove to be true, I've never been more wrong about a public figure that I've dealt with in 45 years in the Twin Cities sports media.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse
In this story: Percy Harvin, Christian Ponder