From an NFL player's perspective, February and March are about as slow as the year gets.
But even though the Green Bay Packers' first mini-camp is more than a month away, safety Darren Sharper isn't taking much time off this offseason.
"I'm working out constantly, 24 hours a day," Sharper said this week. "We've got a really special group coming back this year and I'm doing everything I can to make sure we're ready to make a run to the Super Bowl."
Of course even the most diligent workout fanatics need to take a break from time to time, and come May, Sharper will be making his first trip to Europe.
But even then he'll be immersed in football, working for the NFL Network to provide game analysis of two NFL Europe telecasts.
"Commentating is something I want to do when I stop playing," Sharper said. "I want to be able to stay around the game of football and that's a pretty good avenue to do that.
"I thought about going into coaching, but those guys work too many long hours, so that's something I'll have to consider down the road. For right now, I like the idea of sitting up in the booth or in the studio and talking about the game. From there you can still experience the excitement of game day."
Sharper is still relatively new to the world of broadcasting, but he isn't jumping into his NFL Europe assignment with dry feet.
During the 2003 football season, Sharper moonlighted as an analyst for Green Bay-area high school games.
"That was my first experience broadcasting live football games," Sharper said. "Going into it I thought that the games would move kind of slowly, but I was surprised at how much the energy of the games kept things moving. It was exciting, and I really enjoyed it."
In many ways, Sharper is a natural for broadcasting, where a quick wit can be as valuable to a commentator as foot-speed is to a safety.
During the football season, the loquacious two-time Pro Bowler is often a popular source for quotes and sound bites. However, Sharper admits that sometimes the gift of gab doesn't carry over into live television.
"The biggest challenge is figuring out how to say everything you want to say in a short amount of time," Sharper said. "As a color analyst, I'm trying to explain things thoroughly, but I have to be careful that I don't ramble on and on. And I have to make sure I use more of a layman's terminology that people can understand. If I use the football terms we use in the meeting rooms, everybody watching at home will be scratching their heads."
Last season, Packers fullback William Henderson worked as a color analyst for NFL Europe, then carried on FOX. This year, former Packers linebacker Hardy Nickerson also will call games, as will Kyle Brady (Jacksonville Jaguars), Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina Panthers) and Darren Woodson (Dallas Cowboys).
Sharper will provide analysis for the Frankfurt Galaxy's back-to-back home games against the Scottish Claymores (May 16) and the Berlin Thunder (May 22).
"I'm looking forward to it," Sharper said. "From the people I've talked to who have been to Frankfurt, they say it's a really nice place. I like to consider myself a world traveler, so this just adds to the list."
Sharper is hoping that his experience working with the NFL Network can be a steppingstone for his post-playing career.
But at the age of 28, moving toward his eighth NFL season, he isn't ready to give up his day job yet.
"I think the coming year is going to be very, very important for the whole Packers organization," Sharper said. "That's what I have my eye on."