Grey Area: Richard Sherman and ‘The Birth of No’
Richard Sherman was all over the dial this week, including multiple stops on the NFL Network, an interview with ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” and an appearance on the Discovery Channel’s “American Muscle”.
The Seahawks cornerback discussed everything from his ranking to Campbell’s soup to 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, but it was something he said to former NFL player Willie McGinest that rang most familiar to me. When asked about being a Super Bowl champion and all of the people vying for his time, Sherman said: “… you gotta kind of ignore some of ’em.” At first I couldn’t put my finger on why that quote seemed so familiar, and then I realized that the connection has Seattle roots.
It was a phenomenon called The Birth of No that guitarist Stone Gossard discussed in the documentary “Pearl Jam Twenty”. Gossard described a time when the band had become so popular that doing every appearance and every show that was requested of them was no longer possible. They had to learn to say no.
The crunch on a celebrity’s time is an inevitable byproduct of fame and it might be a particularly important moment for Sherman to have his own personal Birth of No.
I don’t say this because I think Sherman should shut up. On the contrary, I think he’s among a small group of professional players who have something to say that’s actually worth hearing. I also don’t fall in with the blame-the-media types who think this is all some sort of unfair agenda designed to get him. Sherman knows the value of the media stage that he has and he enjoys the discourse. That’s the problem.
Training camp is right around the corner and the noise of the spotlight is unrelenting. There’s only room for so much and the dreaded “distractions” available to this team will never be more plentiful than they will at the start of this year. Sherman is the face of the Seahawks and the line of those waiting to get a moment of his time will go on without end.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, that Sherman says publicly will go unnoticed. It will be parsed, dissected, edited, exaggerated and repeated. At some point the product of one’s success – attention – becomes an impediment to progress. Sherman loves to make noise but he’s going to have to choose where he wants to make it. This might be the perfect time to unplug from the media machine, go from ignoring some of ’em to ignoring all of ’em.
It might be time for The Birth of No.