22 (semi) Brief Thoughts About Why I’m Mad at Richard Sherman

Scene of the crime.
Scene of the crime.

1. Richard Sherman made a marvelously athletic, immaculately timed play to save Seattle’s 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC Championship game that instantly is labeled a “classic” and sends the Seahawks to the first and maybe only Super Bowl that will take place in the New York mega-media market. Seconds later, Sherman stalked Michael Crabtree, the 49ers receiver against whom he made the play, and chose probably an inappropriate time (he’d just, for all purposes, ended Crabtree’s season) to, he claims, try to shake the guy’s hand.

2. Then Sherman flashed the “choke” sign, he says, at 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Then Sherman ranted in an on-field interview with FOXSports’ Erin Andrews, calling Crabtree a “sorry” receiver.

(You can view all of the previous right here).

3. I immediately posted on Facebook: “I love the win, but Richard Sherman is an embarrassment.” A lot of other people posted some nasty, racist things about Sherman.

4. Sherman is black and sometimes people of color reflexively recoil at any criticism of another person of color. I know. I’m a person of color and I’ve had the reflex many times. I had it when I read the Deadspin post about the racist comments.

5. The day after, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by considering how much farther we have to go.

6. Black, white, yellow, brown, young or old, Sherman displayed a lack of class, which embarrassed me. He’s a person of color, he’s successful, he brings us joy, he plays in my city, Seattle. He’s “one of us.” When you’re a fan, something into which I’ve morphed, you want the objects of your sports crush to be recognized by the rest of the world in the rose-colored tint in which you view them.

7. When the rest of the world casts its elusive focus on your beloved, and Richard Sherman behaves the way that he did, it’s disappointing, even embarrassing.

8. Crabtree is far from a mediocre receiver. If he were, then Sherman didn’t really accomplish anything by shutting him down or denying him on that telltale play.

9. While covering girls’ basketball on a national basis, the thing I hated most was feedback from parents on rankings and evaluations compiled by my crew and me. It never was enough to say “my child is deserving of your attention because she can do this and that,” it almost always was “my child is deserving because the other girls suck.” That kind of attitude pervaded the culture of that sport and, I’m sad to discover, is not confined to it.

10. Yes, Kaepernick made a bad decision at the end of the game, and Sherman sure proved it by batting his pass into the hands of Seahawk teammate Malcolm Smith. I find it strange, to say the least, that the play was what prompted Sherman, as he later explained, to flash the choke sign.

11. OK, this is where I admit that maybe, maybe I’m getting old because I don’t see this as just the See-Me Generation, I view it as the See-Me-And-I’m-Still-Going-To-Remind-You-Of-What-You-Just-Saw Generation. We got it the first time. Really. Sometimes we like to re-live that moment, so thanks for posting it on Facebook. It just wasn’t necessary to be in ALL CAPS or followed by a dozen exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!

12. No, the irony of writing “I” so many times in a post that bemoans our culture as becoming too self-focused is not lost on me.

13. As a side note: I was one of the few, I guess, who didn’t find Sherman’s putdown of Skip Bayless all that clever. “I’m better at life than you” has an edge of nastiness that defines most of Sherman’s public taunts. Clever is Dikembe Mutombo turning a taunt into a jovial comic routine that gets celebrated years later in a Geico commercial.

14. Those who defend Sherman’s interview with Andrews tend to employ hyperbole similar to Sherman’s by claiming a microphone was thrust into his face “within seconds” of making a big play in a bruising, highly emotional football game. While I just established the possibility of my AARP eligibility, I’m pretty sure I remember correctly that the Seahawks had to line up in “victory formation” and Russell Wilson had to take a knee at least two times, I’m fairly certain three. Then the teams poured onto the field and half the media madly sprinted to midfield to make sure Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh were just shaking hands and not inquiring about each other’s “deal.” I’m certain that all required more than a few seconds and, as such, I find it extraordinary that Sherman’s instinct still was to chump a fallen opponent on national television.

15. Some of the five of you reading this post likely don’t remember the fallout when Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons refused to shake the hands of the conquering Chicago Bulls after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Years later, my wife Florangela and I were looking straight down upon Serena Williams threatening a line judge at the 2009 U.S. Open. Point is, I think we all know poor losers when we see one. But are we now entering an era of Poor Winners? If so, I really am getting old. Help. Please.

16. People have compared Sherman to Gary Payton, another loquacious, lockdown superstar once based in Seattle. But Payton never dogged opponents in the press. I say this with a fair amount of certainty because, for about 97 percent of his Sonics career, Payton spoke to only one sportswriter — me. He had some incidents sprinkled through a 17-year NBA career, but calling Sidney Lowe a “Smurf” in a setting heard by only a handful of people, for example, wouldn’t even make the portfolio of public denigration Sherman already has accumulated in three years.

17. I was disappointed when I went to other parts of the country and read that Payton was little more than a thug. I knew intimately about his work in the community, his caring side, and I wished more people knew him that way. I also find Sherman’s story to be inspirational and wished he wouldn’t do the things he does that obscure the overwhelmingly positive qualities he possesses.

18. Honestly, I’m no prude. I was thoroughly amused when Golden Tate flashed the “yakking” sign at a beaten defender en route to a touchdown against St. Louis on Monday Night Football. Tate was immediately contrite, admitting “that was immature of me,” which took the edge off. But talking about getting caught up in the moment. That actually was in the moment.

19. If you haven’t figured it out yet, or even missed the original, this post is a counter to Tommy Tomlinson’s 22 Brief Thoughts About That Richard Sherman Interview for Forbes, which a lot of people found so spot on.

20. Tomlinson laments, echoing I’m sure the sentiments of many sportswriters, the dearth of emotion, color and insight in public interaction between athletes and the media. I rarely have been in that camp. Very early in my career, the late Del Danielson, the sports editor who hired me at The Seattle Times, told me he believed sportswriters relied too much on quotes. Why quote someone saying something you, highly trained in communicating in the English language, can say better? Take the reader somewhere she/he cannot be. Bear witness. Know your subject and interpret and explain to those who do not. Not to mention something I learned over time: Any sportswriter worth his/her salt can find out what an athlete is thinking. And a lot of time, nobody cares.

21. Did you watch the game?

22. Really? After drinking in emotion as pure and raw as it gets over the course of three hours, after witnessing what — remember — people have labeled an “instant classic, you still need something more to talk about on your show or write about in your blog? Richard Sherman made the big play Sunday. His team is going to the Super Bowl. Has the world become so collaged and cacophonous that we all need more than that?

(P.S.: Anyone who thinks I don’t like and enjoy Richard Sherman doesn’t know me. I know what time it is; he’s right up my alley. Please watch the following; this is the Richard Sherman I think everyone should know).

7 thoughts on “22 (semi) Brief Thoughts About Why I’m Mad at Richard Sherman

  1. Hairy

    Very well (as usual!) put, Glenn. I agree he over-reacted. My son, who is a Seahawks fan from birth, lives in Los Angeles. He told me today that it is too bad that “the nation now hates the Seahawks because of what Sherman said. Most of them did not stay tuned long enough to see him later, where he was very relaxed and more reserved.” He made a mistake; I doubt he will do it again. Go ‘Hawks!

  2. Dan Woodward

    It’s not as if this is out of the ordinary behavior for Mr. Sherman. He’s been doing this sort of stuff on the regular for a long time now. I’ve little doubt he’ll do it again, as most Seahawks fans seem to genuinely revere him for such antics.

  3. Rex Carlin

    The nation doesn’t hate the Seahawks because of yesterday. You might hate them because of Sherm, but the hate would have started long before that game yesterday.

  4. Stephe Tate

    Well articulated, Glenn. I love passion in sports but when you witness an athlete using their arena for disrespecting or denigrating another competitor and human being, I am deeply saddened. I would rather celebrate the spectacle of selflessness as a triathlete stops and stoops down to aid his competitor who has tripped over a mislaid water-bottle than some overpaid, self-aggrandizing buffoon who knows nothing of the spirit of sport. Richard Sherman has diminished his achievements in a selfish and thoughtless act. His competitor has just lost the opportunity to compete in football’s most celebrated game and he wishes to make him feel worse? Every two years my love of sport is restored during the Olympics when every emotion is clearly on display are many great acts of humanity. It’s not perfect, obviously, but during a brief period of time the world is witness to incredible achievement and failure. It’s a powerful thing to show the dedication and strength of character necessary to graciously appreciate one’s winnings and show compassion for another’s loss.

  5. Phil X.

    Always enjoy your perspective, GN, however I would offer one revision about the ‘sorry’ Crabtree. Sherman called him ‘sorry’ after shutting him down at the most pivotal moment in the game. We all know Crabtree’s a good player and because Sherman defensed him so well, it does indeed make Crabtree (and by association, Kaepernick) ‘sorry’. On the plus side, Sherman did upgrade Crabtree to “mediocre” in the post-game press conference. For that, hopefully, Sherman can get a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in October…

  6. Pingback: 4 Life Lessons from Richard Sherman's Notorious Interview

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