Being Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman
Noah K Murray USA TODAY Sports

It’s true; Richard Sherman is an oxymoron. But understand it’s only in the sense that he stands as a living, breathing, waiting to exhale version of that so, so distant neighbor much of society does everything it can to never truly acquaint itself with.

All those who now still feign total ignorance to the fact a black man can at once be boastful yet articulate, aggressive yet harmless, born in the ‘hood but not necessarily of it, quite frankly will never allow themselves to mature to the point of being able to internalize the concept of the Compton-born, Stanford educated Seattle Seahawks cornerback.

By now, the would-be story of Richard Sherman’s life has been well-documented. The Super Bowl bound star defender exploded into a NFC title-winning post game rant so demonstrative in nature it would make “Iron Mike” Tyson’s Lennox Lewis pre-fight declamation of yesteryear seem like a mere prayer service.

But what now raises the greatest issue is the riddle of just who the 25-year-old Pro Bowler is and what he most serves to represent. As is most often the case, shallow observations and coded buzz words completely defeat the act of seeking any meaningful response.

“We’re talking about football here,” Sherman told ESPN in response to all those who almost innately seemed to label him everything from a “thug” to an unrepentant.

“The reason it bothers me is it seems that’s the accepted way now to call someone the N-word,” Sherman added. “They say thug, and that takes me aback … I know some real thugs, and they know I’m the farthest thing from a thug. I fought that my whole life because of where I’ve come from.”

Indeed, Richard Sherman tirelessly toiled to free himself from Compton only so he could someday return. Return in a capable and able position to make the kind of difference he now strives to through his Blanket Coverage Charity, which provides school supplies for inner-city kids and also makes sure they have the most updated textbooks and educational materials

“I really don’t know how to be anybody else,” Sherman said in the days following his meltdown. “I can only be myself.” Truth be told, that’s a far more complex individual than the one that’s almost certain to be presented over some airwaves over the next week as his Seahawks prepare to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl matchup some are already trying to simplify as The Villains vs. The Virtuous.

In the past, Sherman has constantly raved about the sense of pride he feels in long trying to pattern himself after the immortal likes of Muhammad Ali. So much so, this latest episode seems to suggest to him he may have actually missed his calling, or, at the very least, the era his spirit seems to be most aligned with.

“That’s one of the things I feel like I may be missing out on,” he said. “I feel like my game may be 20 years too late. Maybe I watched those guys too much. Maybe I studied the Alis and the Deion Sanders and Michael Irvins.”

But in the end, Richard Sherman is going to be his own man no matter what. He’s on record in asserting that when his playing career ends, he plans to become a sports commentator. Here’s hoping his voice never goes silent, more of the world needs to get to know the guy who could be living next door.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.