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Darren Sharper Eligible For Hall Of Fame... Despite Rape Conviction

3/24/2015 3:01 PM PDT

Darren Sharper -- Eligible For HOF ... Despite Rape Conviction

EXCLUSIVE

Despite the fact he'll be locked up for the next 9 years, convicted rapist Darren Sharper is still eligible to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- and based on his numbers alone, there's a real possibility it could happen. 

TMZ Sports spoke with Joe Horrigan -- Executive V.P. of the Selection Process for the Pro Football HOF -- who tells us there's nothing in the bylaws preventing a convicted criminal from being enshrined in Canton.  

Horrigan says as long as the player has been out of the league for 5 years and has made at least 1 All-Pro team ... that person is eligible.   

That being said ... the Exec. V.P. says it's POSSIBLE voters will take Sharper's crimes into account when voting for the former New Orleans Saints superstar -- but they're not supposed to.   

FYI ... Sharper played 14 seasons in the league and was a 6-time All-Pro ... widely considered one of the best safeties of his era.

Sharper last played in 2010 ... so he would be eligible as early as 2016. 

Stay tuned ...

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