Far from offensive
By Alex Ferguson. Last Updated: 24/01/14 1:38pm
In the closing seconds of the NFC Championship game Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback, jumped for a ball with Michael Crabtree, the San Francisco 49ers superstar wide receiver.
Twisting and turning in mid-air, Sherman made the play of his life, deflecting Colin Kaepernick's pass into the arms of waiting outside linebacker Malcolm Smith.
After the game finished, the news media went rushing to Sherman. Here's a brief transcript of his now-famous interview with Erin Andrews of Fox Sports, part of which you can watch here:
Andrews: "Richard, let me ask you about the final play. Take me through it."
Sherman: "Well, I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me."
Andrews: "Who was talking about you?"
Sherman: "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best. Or I'm ma shut it for you real quick. L.O.B (Legion of boom, the nickname of the Seahawks secondary)."
But even before the interview with Andrews, a fired-up Sherman told a Fox Deportes (Fox's sister Spanish-speaking station) news reporter (who frankly deserves a medal for the speed at which he ran on the field after the play) that he was already running his mouth about Crabtree, calling the receiver "mediocre", adding: "He's weak".
He added when asked about his play: "I'm the best to do this right now," and then telling the reporter how the team deserved to be going to Seattle. "We worked for this. We deserve it." And then screaming: "L.O.B."
But here's the funny thing. Everyone who saw Andrews' interview thought that the excellent sideliner reporter/ Fox Sports College Football host was scared by Sherman's interview. Hell, if you could have run a 'Pray for Erin' campaign, you would probably have had millions of sign-ups on the back of the TV coverage.
But here's the funny bit: She hugged Sherman before the interview (or more's the case, Sherman hugged her). It's not like this interview was particularly confrontational.
Then came the stupidity. Sherman, standing on the podium with the presentation of the trophy, was much more chilled out a few minutes later. A day after, Richard Sherman actually apologised.
He told ESPN: "I apologise for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates ... That was not my intent." Then he wrote a piece for SI.com, where he had to defend his behaviour again.
But actually, the behaviour wasn't disgusting of Richard Sherman at all. The guy had just made the 'Play Of The Year' to deny Seattle's Most Hated Rival a second straight appearance in the Super Bowl. The 'Play Of The Year' just happened to be against a wide receiver with whom he had verbally sparred with all season long and even before the season had started.
It was disgusting of the media... both social and otherwise.
One UK newspaper (which shall remain nameless) deigned to say that Sherman's hyped-up interview after the game when he's just made 'The Play Of The Year' against his team's Most Hated Rival showed that he "wasn't ready for sports stardom", because he openly slaughtered a player and trash-talked him.
Twitter started calling him a "thug", which, for a lot of people, is simply a way of using a racial slur without, you know, using a racial slur.
I've been reminded of a recent situation in Canada by my friend Paul Attfield, where Montreal Canadiens superstar P.K. Subban was criticized by legendary TV analyst Don Cherry, for winding up the Ottawa fans after he scored an overtime goal to beat one of his teams' biggest rivals.
After Subban scored the winning goal in overtime that gave Montreal a 5-4 win against hated rivals Ottawa, he celebrated by jumping into a teammate's arms....and then as he was coming off the ice tugging on the club badge on his shirt as he was coming off the ice. That move didn't prove popular to Cherry.
Cherry labelled the celebration as 'ridiculous' and added: "This is one of the reasons why [Canada's Winter Olympic Ice Hockey Team] didn't want him, because of what he did in Ottawa".
That's almost as stupid as saying that Seattle coach Pete Carroll - who's coached his fair share of media stars in the past (especially during his time as coach at Southern California, where he coached Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart) - should leave out Sherman because he went a bit crazy after he had the 'Play Of The Year'.
And here's another thing: There are people in Canada probably labelling Subban a 'thug' now to.
That 't' word was uttered 625 times on US TVs on Monday, sports media website Deadspin informs us. That's a lot.
Sherman's defence of himself - he wrote an article for Sports Illustrated (where he's a guest columnist), where he said: "To those who call me a thug or worse because I show passion on the football field - don't judge a person's character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family".
Interestingly, a writer for NBC Sports.com covered the launch of 'Blanket Coverage' in July 2013 saying: "It's hard to figure out [Sherman]. Highly talented as a player, he comes off at times as salty and abrasive. He can unnecessarily boastful, prideful, and immodest. But he's also using his platform and influence for the good of others. We recently noticed that Sherman apparently has matured, choosing the high road over picking fights. He's definitely taking the high road with the launching of his charity, and we respect him for that."
'Blanket Coverage' - the name given to Richard Sherman's Family Foundation - has a goal, according to its Facebook page: "To make sure as many kids as possible have adequate school supplies and clothes".
What's so stupid about calling someone like Sherman a 'thug' is that it's so far from the truth. True, he talked some smack on the field. But I've seen worse at public school rugby games.
Sherman went to Stanford. You have to be exceptionally bright to go to Stanford. They don't allow people in who can 'just play football'. As has been voiced in many media articles, he's a former straight-A high school student. I know for sure I didn't get straight-As at high school.
He has a degree in communications from Stanford, which would trump a lot of people's degrees - even if Sherman was not an multi-millionaire by his NFL talents. Sure, he came from one of the worst areas of LA, but that's doesn't make him a 'thug gang member Blood Cripp dope dealer wannabe'. That's like saying that all people who live in Chelsea are wealthy snobs. I think the people of World End's Estate would probably argue differently!
And lastly, Sherman's move wasn't stupid, it was really clever. For TV networks and other advertisers, Sherman's actions are a marketing man's dream. Sherman will be re-creating that interview to much more humorous levels for years to come, especially when someone like a DirectTV is talking down 'Weak' Cable, and earning himself a pretty penny.
Oh, and Sherman's going to the Super Bowl. Most people on Twitter aren't. Who has the last laugh?