Everybody’s got an opinion about Richard Sherman, who has become the face, ah, make that the voice, of the Seattle Seahawks. The Internet is full of Sherman stories. Before we get to some of them, here’s my quick thought on what transpired at the end of Sunday’s game at CenturyLink:
It’s an emotional game, and Sherman clearly got caught up in the excitement and energy of making a game-saving play in the biggest game of his life, but he’s apologized for taking the attention away from his teammates. I didn’t mind the post-game rant, I rather enjoyed it and I’m a card-carrying AARP-member. I didn’t like the choke sign. That was bush-league. Can he tone it down? Sure, but this is a supremely confident athlete. He’s a smack-talker, but he’s not a thug. He wears his bravado on his sleeve like Muhammad Ali. He’s the mouth that roars, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the bright lights of Super Bowl media week in New York. You’re not going to get a lot of boring, cliche-like answers from him, but I don’t think he’ll give Peyton Manning and the Broncos any bulletin board material either. Richard Sherman’s too smart for that, and I think he’ll learn from how he reacted following the Seahawks’ NFC Championship game.
The most disturbing part of the Richard Sherman saga? Reading some of the ignorant and racially-implied online comments directed toward Sherman on the Internet. That tells me more about their character than his.
He talks about that and more in this revealing interview with Rachel Nichols of CNN.com.
Love him or hate him, Peter King of mmqbSI.com says everybody is fascinated about the Seahawks’ cornerback.
“I think this story has really caught on because everyone loves a villain,’’ said Dr. Annemarie Farrell, a professor of sports management and media at Ithaca College. She is an expert in fan behavior. “There’s not a ton of villains on either of these teams that people can talk about. We can’t all talk about Peyton Manning every day all the time. That’s boring. Sherman, on the other hand, put himself out there, and America really latched on. That’s why it became a bigger story than the game.
“There’s a lot of different storylines with Richard and reasons for why this blew up, but I think a really important one here is race. This seethes into this narrative of race in America and race logic. Think about who Richard Sherman is. He’s a kid from Compton who graduated second in his class and went to Stanford to earn a degree in Communications. He’s at a critical point in his football career, makes a huge play, then a reporter sticks a mike in his face. What does he do? He not only speaks, he shouts. And now you have an angry, almost violent black man, in a very passionate moment, yelling on national television.’’
Stanford coach David Shaw was the defensive coordinator when Sherman played for the Cardinal. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked him about Sherman.
“Bill Walsh said you want guys with high character who are great players and great people,” Shaw said. “But every once in a while, you have to line up and defend Jerry Rice. And the guy who does that has to be on the edge. That’s where Richard is.”
There is nothing wrong with not liking Sherman. As sure as he is free to act as he chooses, fans are free to judge him on that and react accordingly. That’s part of the deal. The only mistake is to assume that everyone in the NFL should act the same way – or more specifically act like you think you would act if it were you who was playing the game.
Jamie Fritz, who manages Sherman’s marketing deals, told ESPN.com: “We live in a world where so many are politically correct, so many are all about media training. There’s one thing that you can count on from Richard, and that is that he’s always going to speak his mind.”
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times defends Sherman. He writes:
“… he is the example of everything that is wrong with some modern professional football fans. A guy fights for three hours and winds up throwing the punch of his life in the most important professional moment of his life, and America expects him to immediately start blowing kisses?”
Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune is among those who finds Sherman refreshing:
“You want classy? Go to the opera. Sherman sounded like football. Good for him. Good for our entertainment.
“Admit it, you loved it, too. Stop lying to yourselves. It’s a bad habit, it’s patently phony, and people are already pointing at you and talking about you.
“Sherman was himself. He was a thing, and it was hysterical. He was funny, colorful, entertaining. This is not a G-8 meeting, people. It’s entertainment.
“It’s entertainment that includes a guy suffering a torn ACL for our pleasure.
“It’s entertainment that includes players welcoming the early stages of brain damage for our pleasure.
“Wise up, folks. When you’re asking people to bring on early dementia and early death, yeah, there’s a chance they’ll be geeked up.
“And when a player makes the key play in a conference championship game and has a live mic stuck in front of him, then yeah, there’s a chance he’ll still be geeked up.”
Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes that Sherman has made it all about himself.
“Richard Sherman may make you root against him, against his team, root even harder for Peyton Manning to come win the big game in Eli’s house. But Sherman’s face was as much the face of his sport as Peyton’s was on championship Sunday. His voice, like it or not, drowned out everything else, even all that noise in Seattle.
“He hits town in a week. It is more likely Richard Sherman runs out of saliva before he runs out of material. Peyton may light him up in the game, it’s happened to loudmouth defensive backs in Super Bowls before. Until then, Sherman will think all the bright lights of the big city are about him.”
ALSO: According to vegasinsider.com, the favorite is just 1-5 in the last six Super Bowls and 3-9 in the last 12 against the spread. Several Vegas bookies had the Seahawks as early favorites, but the line moved in Denver’s favor and the Broncos are now 2-point favorites. That line, of course, could move as we get closer to the game.