Minutes after making a huge play in the endzone to help the Seattle Seahawks seal the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl, Richard Sherman spoke to Erin Andrews in a post-game interview. Needless to say, it was different than the one we’ve seen Peyton Manning give after victories.
First of all, notice Erin Andrews turn into a scared white woman on a New York City subway as soon as the interview starts. That’s some quality television. Unfortunately, much of Twitter turned too. Within seconds, the pent-up racial aggression that Twitter has become infamous for took hold of the interwebs and Richard Sherman turned from game-saving hero to trending topic.
There were worse things said. But let’s pretend that was the worst of it. What Richard Sherman failed to realize was that he had just stumbled into a “discussion” about race that many have contributed online monologues to since…well, let’s say November 2008 and long before that.
That’s not to say that all or even most of the negative response was racially motivated. Only the ugly stuff. There were plenty of criticisms that were simply directed at what some called “classless”.
But let’s be real here. Erin Andrews’ interview featured Richard Sherman the competitor. The guy who just won, or at least sealed, a trip to the Super Bowl. The guy who, after all the trash talk from both sides, helped his team come out on top with the entire country watching.
I’d be pretty psyched too.
Now, forget the responses you just saw and think back to the interview. Did Richard Sherman curse on air? Did he ever break eye contact with the camera? Did he ever break character? This is Richard Sherman, the NFL player. The WWE promo-dropping villain. Fifteen minutes later, giving countless interviews following the championship ceremony, Sherman was affable, telegenic, and no longer frightening white women.
Come on. First, Sherman is a communications major from Stanford with a 3.7 GPA. He’s begun working towards his Master’s Degree. He’s not a dumb guy or a “thug” as one postgame interview may have made him look like in the eyes of some. He’s trained in media and has gone through countless interviews.
Second, he’s a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year after being drafted all the way back in the fifth-round in 2011. He’s been among the elite cornerbacks for at least two years and all he’s had to hear from the likes of Skip Bayless is “Darrelle Revis is better.” “Patrick Peterson is better.” “Joe Haden is better.” It’s safe to say, he has a chip on his shoulder that he’s not shy about.
Third, this interview wasn’t after a half hour of him sitting on the bench watching the offense run down the clock. They stuck the microphone in front of his face seconds after he saved the game and we’ve all watched the eccentric things that football players can spout off after a big play on shows like NFL Network’s Sound FX or Mic’d Up. Hell, it’s the only reason we’ve watched it. We’ve seen worse postgame interviews. From losers.
Fourth, I have never watched a Peyton Manning postgame interview I’ve been interested in or have seen generate this much discussion. If anything, Richard Sherman is a branding genius. Who’s everyone talking about today?
Fifth, nothing Richard Sherman said was as disturbing as Fox replaying NaVorro Bowman’s knee being turned inside out over and over and over again.
Let’s stop pretending that what Richard Sherman showed was some thuggish response to an otherwise gentlemanly game. There were a lot of injuries, a lot of pre-game trash talk, and a much-discussed building tension between the two teams that led up to this game.
Richard Sherman showed exactly the fire you want your best defensive playmaker to show. Richard Sherman’s postgame interview showed the same fire as Ray Lewis’ countless pregame ramblings and Jim Harbaugh’s halftime speeches. And let’s face it, Jim Harbaugh has shouted far worse things at referees from the sidelines than Richard Sherman could ever direct toward an opposing receiver.
How many times have you heard that a player “doesn’t have enough fire”? How many times have you heard “this guy steps up in big games”? How many times have you watched your own team throw in bum corner after bum corner to cover a guy that other teams couldn’t cover.
Michael Crabtree said Richard Sherman only made one play.
Maybe. But how many receivers did you see put up more than 53 yards? How many times did you see the receiver Sherman was covering even targeted?
Richard Sherman did not have a bad game, no one on either defense did, so stop it. Richard Sherman is not some thug off the street, thugs don’t attend Master’s Degree programs at Stanford. Richard Sherman is not classless, he’s a competitor fired up in the moment. A competitor who believes he’s the best but has constantly been overlooked and told that others are better.
He’s the perfect anti-hero to Peyton Manning’s universally adored Super Bowl run. A trash-talking villain that also backs it up with ridiculous talent and ability. Lex Luthor would have never been much of a villain if he didn’t have all that Kryptonite.
Richard Sherman is the most hateable guy in the NFL. Unless he’s on your team. If he’s on your team he’s the lifeblood of your defense. The best playmaker you can throw at an opposing quarterback. Just ask Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree. If your team had to face Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl, the only guy you’d want covering Demaryius Thomas is Richard Sherman.