It's a truth among NFL fans: anything which casts a potential pall on a team we dislike must be true.
Football fans can be a passionate bunch. Although some fan bases can be more dedicated than others, there will always be fans which believe their team can do no wrong. These same fans will often seize any opportunity to disparage another team, however weak the cause. Winning teams are often the targets for the ire of other fans; and the Saints joined that number when they defeated Peyton Manning to win the Super Bowl in 2009. Goodell further stirred the pot against New Orleans with his questionable accusations against the team in 2012, giving the Saints a bandwagon of "haters" that would make Kat Williams proud. And now, after a rather successful 2013 season, the Saints are once again being linked to scandal.
As most of you know by now, former NFL safety Darren Sharper has been accused of multiple counts of rape. Unsurprisingly, biased fans and media alike take every opportunity to link the Saints to the scandal. Social media has been ablaze with fans of other teams expressing new disdain for the black and gold, absurdly claiming that Sharper's alleged behavior is typical of the team and the city.
Certainly, the last time the NFL Network's analyst suited up to play football for a season, he wore the gold fleur-de-lis. But since entering the league in 1997, Sharper actually suited up for the Saints less than either of his other teams, and less even than he suited up for the NFL Network.
The Green Bay Packers drafted the safety out of the College of William and Mary in 1997, and kept him around for eight years and two Pro Bowls before releasing him in 2005. The Minnesota Vikings picked him up two days later; and the safety went to the Pro Bowl twice more during his four years in Minneapolis. After twelve years in the league, Sharper only had one full season with New Orleans. And although the Saints signed him to a second year after winning the Lombardi, he only suited up in eight games during the 2010 season.
After New Orleans released Sharper, he was courted by the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, and his former team the Green Bay Packers; but he retired after receiving no contract offers for the 2011 season. By the time Goodell came out with his allegations against the Saints in early 2012, Sharper had already been working as a guest analyst for the NFL Network, and his position solidified by the time the 2012 season started. When the news broke in 2014, he was still suiting up as a face of the NFL Network.
To recap: Sharper spent eight years with the Packers, four years as a Viking, and two full seasons as an employee of the NFL Network... but he only gave New Orleans a season and a half. And none of his alleged crimes are said to have taken place while he was a member of the Saints. So while Darren Sharper did in fact play for the New Orleans Saints, his stint with the Saints was neither his longest in the NFL nor his most recent avenue of employment with the NFL.
Many people who knew Sharper, from his time in New Orleans and beyond, have publicly said the allegations are surprising, and not characteristic of what they knew of the man. But even if he had committed these terrible crimes while a member of the Saints: as they do not involve any aspect of his performance on the field (such as PED usage), they still would not tarnish the success which the Saints had during the 2009 season.