Friday, October 31, 2014

Editorial: Making sense of Richard Sherman

The controversial cornerback has created a media buzz after his remarks in a postgame interview

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the potential go-ahead pass to Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone with time winding down in the Jan. 19 NFC Championship game. One problem – Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was shadowing Crabtree, tipping the ball right into the hands of his Seahawks teammate Malcolm Smith.

Game over. Seahawks win 23-17.

Then the real entertainment began.

Sherman got into Crabtree’s face after the interception and shortly thereafter flashed a choke sign at Kaepernick. Then came the interview. As soon as Fox reporter Erin Andrews raised her microphone, Sherman took a shot at Crabtree, calling him “sorry,” while proclaiming — or rather yelling in an adrenaline-fueled frenzy — himself “the best corner in the game.”

Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning was kinder than the public’s mass reaction to Sherman’s antics. First there were those who offered the opinion that Sherman was “immature, obnoxious, crazy,” and they at least had a decent argument. Sherman’s talkative act is not for everyone. But those relatively harmless monikers unfortunately led to the more sinister accusations of Sherman being a “thug.”

Spark plug — Richard Sherman’s comments have thrust him into the spotlight. Google Images

Spark plug — Richard Sherman’s comments have thrust him into the spotlight. Google Images

What did Sherman do that was so wrong, besides not adhering perfectly to the silly rules of sportsmanship we have crafted over the years? He called himself the best cornerback in the game — an opinion shared by many football experts. Calling Crabtree “sorry” and “mediocre” may not be accurate, but he’s certainly not “the greatest catcher of all-time” as Jim Harbaugh exclaimed a few weeks ago. Hyperbole is only acceptable if positive, I guess.

The “thug” name issued by many misguided pundits was the most concerning. The most trouble Sherman has ever been in was almost receiving a four-game suspension, which he successfully appealed, for violating the NFL’s drug policy by taking Adderall.

Aside from his run-ins with the league’s drug policy, Sherman should be considered someone to respect.

Degrees like the one Sherman has from Stanford are usually not typical of thugs. Thugs do not usually finish second in their high school class with 4.2 GPAs as Sherman did, according to Sports Illustrated. There’s more thug in a Volkswagen Beetle than there is in Richard Sherman.

A more fitting word for what Sherman did is “authentic.” What should we want out of a trash-talking football player who just made a great play to send his team to the Super Bowl — a polite “both teams played hard?” Sherman brought the emotions of the game and a sneak peek of the trash talk that occurs on the field that is rarely seen in sideline interviews. The controversial interview was G-rated compared to words football players exchange on the field, guaranteed.

Who is supposed to be the victim of the situation — Erin Andrews, who tweeted after the game that she had no problem with Sherman’s interview? It’s not like Sherman made a grabby attempt at Andrews like Joe Namath did in his infamous sideline interview, in which he told Suzy Kolber he wanted to kiss her. If anything, Sherman made Andrews’ job easier, with there being no need to inspire material out of him.

The absurd double-standard the public has for athletes makes it impossible for them to win. We do not want the same old clichés, but we also do not want to hear what athletes are really thinking either, especially if it is even a tad controversial. Peyton Manning does not hear much criticism because he sticks to studying film, making Papa John’s commercials and spitting out clichés like a baseball player spits out sunflower seeds. So when

Richard Sherman raises his voice and displays some of the confidence that helps make him great, it is treated like he just insulted Mister Rogers.

Sherman does not work a 9-to-5 desk job. He is an entertainer. That’s what professional sports exist for — entertainment of the public. Still, some fans will still hold resentment toward him and take an attitude of “just shut up and play.”

Maybe those fans should just shut up and be entertained.

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