Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Defending Richard Sherman

Since Sunday's 23-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, which vaulted Seattle into the Super Bowl, Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman has been unmercifully condemned for an over-the-top, post-game TV interview.

Actually he should be commended. He's not a villain, but more like a pioneer. He took a bold detour into virgin territory. What did he do? He said what was on his mind, consequences be damned.

The way people are hating on him you'd think he was a combination of Darth Vader, Attila the Hun and Al Capone, with a touch of Hitler and Lucifer thrown in. All he did, following his sensational, game-saving tip of a pass intended for 49er receiver Michael Crabtree, was vigorously trash Crabtree and do some animated chest-thumping during a brief chat with Erin Andrews minutes after the play. Amped-up and sky-high he demeaned Crabtree as "sorry" and boisterously proclaimed himself the best corner on the planet--which he is. He looked ferocious while Andrews looked terrified.

Everyone expected the usual humble, gentlemanly chatter with Sherman praising the  49ers and Crabtree, stressing that it was a team victory and down-playing his super play. People wanted the same old "aw shucks," "gee whiz," politically correct, cliched line. But Sherman shocked the world by manically storming in the opposite direction, ranting and venting, saying exactly what was on his mind, something you never hear in post-game interviews.

In these interviews you never really believe what the player, coach or manager is saying. If they lost, they're truly pissed off. They're angry at whoever beat them. They may have been robbed by the refs and really want to curse about how they were ripped off. They may feel the opponent is inferior or hate some of the opposing players. But we never get to hear any of  real, post-game venom. We always get the cleaned-up, filtered, sanitized version.

But not this time.

Sherman treated us to something we had never seen, particularly after a game of that magnitude. He said screw being politically correct and screw taking the high road. It was ugly, too ugly for most people. What made it unsettling for many was that Sherman, an angry, dread-locked black man said this to a young, genteel white woman. The racial undertones were jarring

Back in the old days, some may say, Muhammad Ali routinely did what Sherman did on Sunday. Actually Ali didn't. His rants were similar but there was a comic feel to them. You sensed he was pulling your leg. There was nothing really scary about Ali's chatter. Sherman, though, was scary. He went to Stanford but in that post-game blast he wasn't the standard Stanford man. Sherman is from Compton. In that post-game interview he tapped into his Compton roots, turning into the angry black man.

You may hear that what you saw in that interview wasn't the real Sherman, that he's really a nice, gentle guy who's a real team player. That's not what I hear. According to my sources, Sherman is a real jerk, with anger issues. Many of his teammates, report the sources, don't like him. He's apparently a real egomaniac who sincerely believes he's the best and doesn't mind letting the world know it. Also, report the sources, he's a real trash-talker who gets under people's skin, who relishes making people mad.

Sherman got a kick out of dissing Crabtree because he doesn't like the 49er wide receiver. They have a history of hating each other. When it came time to talk about Crabtree on national TV, Sherman did none of the usual sugar-coating. He spoke his mind. It may have been ugly but it was honest. Give him credit for that.

The next day, Sherman apologized. But he apologized for taking attention away from the team. He didn't, however, apologize for the rant. Give him another plus for that..