Darren Perry (born December 29, 1968) is a National Football League assistant coach and former professional American football player. He is currently the safeties coach for the Green Bay Packers. A product of Penn State, Perry played free safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints.
As a quarterback at Chesapeake, Virginia’s Deep Creek High School, Perry passed for 24 touchdowns and 2,790 yards.
Perry was named a first-team Football Writers All-American in 1991 and graduated as Penn State’s second leading all-time interceptor with 15. Perry’s 299 interception return yards and three interceptions for touchdowns are school records. Perry had six interceptions his senior year and returned two for touchdowns.
Perry appeared on the cover of the November 26, 1990 issue of Sports Illustrated following Penn State’s defeat of then #1, Notre Dame. He has a sandwich named in his honor at State College, Pennsylvania’s Fraser Street Deli. The ingredients are Roast Beef, Provolone, and Onions all heated and served on toasted bread.
An eighth round draft pick (203rd overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft, (the first for Steelers head coach Bill Cowher), Perry played seven seasons (1992–98) with the Steelers and started the first 110 games of his career, including the postseason. Largely unheralded, the 5’11”, 200 lb (91 kg). rookie picked off six passes, becoming the first rookie since 1955 to lead the team in interceptions. The pairing of Perry with Pro Bowler Rod Woodson in the secondary helped create one of the NFL’s most effective and durable secondaries. His 32 career interceptions from 1992-98 are tied for seventh in Pittsburgh history.
Perry signed with the San Diego Chargers in 1999 and rounded out his playing career in 2000 with the New Orleans Saints, having played in 139 of 141 possible games, missing only two games in 1997 due to a groin injury. He started 13 postseason games, including Super Bowl XXX. He had a career total of 35 interceptions.
In 1997, Perry was selected as the recipient of the Pro Football Writers’ “Chief Award,” presented annually to the member of the Steelers’ organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media. He was also named the winner of the 1992 “Joe Greene Great Performance Award,” given to the outstanding Steelers rookie.
Perry spent the 2002 season as the Cincinnati Bengals’ safeties coach under his former defensive coordinator, Dick Lebeau. He was the Steelers’ defensive backs coach from 2004–2006, after having served as assistant defensive backs coach in 2003. Perry was instrumental with the rapid development of the Steelers’ two outstanding safeties, All-Pro Troy Polamalu and Chris Hope. He resigned from the Steelers coaching staff on January 25, 2007, following the retirement of head coach Bill Cowher. Perry was hired by the Oakland Raiders as their defensive backs coach on February 5, 2007, and spent two seasons with the team.
Perry was hired by the Green Bay Packers as their safeties coach on February 3, 2009.
On January 29, 2018 Mike McCarthy announced in a press release Perry would not be returning to the Packers and would be seeking to pursue other coaching opportunities.
In 1992, he began Intercept for Care, wherein Perry made a $500 donation to Chesapeake Care for every interception he made. Chesapeake Care is a program in which doctors, nurses, dentists and volunteers donate services to those without medical insurance in Chesapeake, Virginia. Perry later convinced others to match his contribution, making each of his interceptions worth as much as $2,500 apiece. By 1996 the program had helped over 9,000 patients.
Perry and his wife Errika have four children: Danielle, Dominique, Dedriana and Devan. They live in Chesapeake, Virginia in the offseason.
In 2007, Perry, along with fellow Penn Stater and ex-Buffalo Bill Keith Goganious, collaborated in to resurrect the Hampton Roads Football Camp after a 12-year hiatus. The camp, held at Virginia Wesleyan College is aimed at high school athletes. New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was a past attendee.