Taken from the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Maybe Favre was speaking more of the team situation, not Walker's contract. That's ok. I'm sure Sharper thinks he's going to be all awesome this year on D like he thought last year too. :lol:Grass is greener just across border
Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
August 22, 2005
Darren Sharper swears he harbors no bitterness toward the Green Bay Packers. If anything, it's just the opposite. His departure from the only NFL organization he had ever known has given him a new lease on football life in Minnesota.
"I'm having a blast," said Sharper, who signed with the Vikings last March after being released by Green Bay in a salary-cap move. "I think just having a fresh start, coming to a new team; the energy that this team has and the organization has as far as expectations. The guys I'm around are just great guys. This year I'm having the most fun I've had in any year in the league."
Considering it's only three weeks into training camp and Sharper appeared in the Super Bowl as a rookie with Green Bay, it's possible the free safety might be getting a little ahead of himself. But Sharper's enthusiasm isn't all that surprising after what he went through last season.
Sharper, who made two Pro Bowl appearances in his eight seasons with the Packers, entered last year expecting to be a key playmaker in new defensive coordinator Bob Slowik's aggressive scheme. But the flaws in Slowik's defense were exposed early, and the Packers quickly went away from that style.
Then in late October against Dallas, Sharper suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while trying to break up a pass. He missed only one game, but Sharper wasn't the same the rest of the season. His health was only part of the problem.
"Last year sometimes I would come to work and I would feel as though there was a gloom over the workday," he said. "Whether we were coming back from a loss or whether it was just the fact we weren't playing good as a team or just the fact I wasn't having fun being in the work environment that I was in."
The Packers won the NFC North but lost to the visiting Vikings in the first round of the playoffs. Two months later, Sharper became part of the Vikings' offseason defensive makeover, signing a four-year contract after refusing to accept a $4 million pay cut from the Packers.
"He has done a real good job," said Chuck Knox Jr., the Vikings' coverage coordinator. "He has picked up the system, he's a very smart and instinctive player, and he brings some leadership qualities back there."
Daunte an incentive
Sharper, 29, who is expected to receive an average salary of about $4 million per season, also heard from Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami and New Orleans. He insists his reasons for picking the Vikings go beyond getting a chance to face his former team twice a season, although he admits that played a role.
"I think it was more about coming here," Sharper said. "It always makes it more special when you can play against a team that you have played with. The fact we're going to face them twice a year will make it a little bit more of a satisfaction if I can go out and beat those guys. But I think it was more of a situation and the organization here, the opportunity to win a championship with the team we have. Playing with Daunte Culpepper and knowing what he can do. He's always going to give you a chance to win."
Sharper's appreciation for having a Pro Bowl quarterback, of course, came from spending his career watching Brett Favre. Even as he factored in the Vikings' commitment to improve the NFL's 28th-ranked defense, the presence of Culpepper on offense was equally vital.
"Wherever I decided to go I had to go somewhere -- money or no money -- where we have a quarterback that is young and a guy that can lead you to the promised land," Sharper said. "Playing with Brett, I know what it's like to have a guy who can pull the trigger and always give you a chance to win."
Despite his admiration for Favre, Sharper wasn't afraid to criticize his former teammate this offseason for comments the quarterback made about receiver Javon Walker's attempt to get the last two years of his contract reworked. Sharper's message to Walker: Don't pay attention to Favre.
Sharper's stance didn't sit well with many in Green Bay, but he has no regrets.
"Not at all," said Sharper, who hasn't spoken to Favre. "What I said was true. I talked to a lot of guys around the league. After seeing [Favre's] statements, guys came up to me and said, 'Did you hear what Brett said?' Everyone gave their opinion on what they thought, and all of those opinions agreed with me as far as he should not have commented about someone else's contract situation."
Judd Zulgad is [email protected].