Former NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe, who inexplicably has been passed over on multiple occasions for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, now has to worry about an off-field issue that not only could further slow down his candidacy for Canton but also could derail his on-air career at CBS.
Sports By Brooks reports that Sharpe has decided to leave The NFL Today until the pending legal case against him is resolved.
“I have decided to step aside from The NFL Today until the matter is resolved,” Sharpe said in a statement released through CBS.
CBS Sports Senior Vice President of Communications LeslieAnne Wade said, “We accept Shannon’s decision and decline to comment further on a pending legal matter.”
The real question, in our view, is the amount of time the legal matter will be pending. On Thursday, only three days before Sharpe’s first on-air duties of the year, an “ex parte” temporary protective order was issued against him. “Ex parte” means that the alleged victim obtained the protection by going to court without Sharpe having the ability to respond to the claims, which include allegations of rape and death threats.
We’ve got several concerns about this. First, if rape was committed, why didn’t the alleged victim go to the police? Second, the “ex parte” nature of the process allows anyone to allege anything and create all sorts of problems for someone. It’s far more potent than merely filing a lawsuit, since the issuance of a protective order carries a much stronger sense of legitimacy than the one-sided contentions in a civil complaint.
The plaintiff will have to prove at a hearing on September 20 the basis for the protective order, and if the situation at that point is concluded Sharpe will miss only one week. If it lingers, Sharpe will miss more than a week. Given the speed (or lack thereof) with which the legal process sometimes moves, Sharpe could miss the whole year.
None of this excuses any wrongdoing that Sharpe may have committed. But it’s troubling to see someone have to temporarily abandon his livelihood based on a claim that has yet to be scrutinized or tested by any legal authority.