Shahriar Pourdanesh (known as Shar Pourdanesh to his many Redskin fans), was born in Iran. He came to the United States with his family after leaving Iran during the Iranian revolution in 1979. He attended University High School in Irvine, California where he was an all-league offensive lineman and was the fourth-ranked heavyweight wrestler in the state. He attended college at the University of Nevada in Reno where he was a dominant offensive lineman. As a senior in 1992, he was named to the first team All-Conference for the Big West Conference.
Shar joined the Redskins after two seasons with the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and is the first Iranian to play NFL football. In 1994 Shar was named CFL Offensive Lineman of the Year for the Baltimore Stallions and was named to the CFL all-star team in 1994 and 1995. During the 1996 Redskins' season Shar proved a very versatile player, playing both left tackle and right tackle.