By Jim Moore
We’re three days removed from Richard Sherman’s rant with Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship Game. The last three days should have been filled with talk about the best play in Seahawks history, the one that Sherman made with his deflection in the end zone to teammate Malcolm Smith.
Instead, ESPN and every other media outlet is consumed with reaction to Sherman’s rant. Listeners told us Tuesday on “Wyman, Mike and Moore” to move on. They’re sick of the Sherman controversy.
But look at the interest. A Seattle Times poll on Sherman drew more than 9,000 votes. Thirty-six percent said they’re disappointed in Sherman but forgive him. Thirty-five percent said they’re fine with it: He won and he can say what he wants. The trailer in the poll is the one I would’ve voted for: 29 percent said they hated it because it was classless and offensive.
The poll results are slanted because we’re in Seattle and everyone loves Sherman and the Seahawks, particularly now that the gifted and outspoken cornerback made the play that sent them to the Super Bowl.
If you held the same poll in San Francisco, I’m guessing 90 percent would’ve said they hated Sherman’s rant. I’m also guessing if Sherman played for the 49ers, 90 percent of voters here would’ve said they hated it, too.
I’m surprised at the number of people who support Sherman and those who make excuses for him. I thought it was inexcusable, but then I went to Sherman’s news conference at the team’s headquarters Wednesday and came away with a slightly different opinion.
Sherman said he could have “worded things better,” and been “more mature” with his handling of the interview with Andrews. He regretted taking the spotlight away from his teammates. He said he doesn’t think he’s a villain and feels like people are wrongly “judging the book by the cover.” He spent 20 minutes being the likable Richard Sherman we’ve come to know in Seattle.
I heard Danny O’Neil talking yesterday about us wanting our athletes to act a certain way and when they don’t, we get upset about it. I guess Danny’s right. I like it when athletes have class. I like it when people have class. I also like sportsmanship.
I don’t mind taunting and trash talking. In fact I actually enjoy it. But Sherman took whatever his issues are with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree too far.
In my own mind, I’m trying to figure out why I love Charles Barkley and couldn’t stand what Sherman said Sunday night. Barkley says outrageous stuff all the time, and I get a kick out of him.
Back in the day, I thought Muhammad Ali was funny and creative with his trash talking, but I admit that I always wanted Smokin’ Joe Frazier to shut his mouth in the ring.
But Sherman wasn’t funny or creative with Andrews. Yet I know we should give him a break because the interview came in the heat of the moment, and what do you expect when someone throws a microphone in front of his face? He’s a warrior who still had his game face on.
But what about his postgame news conference, a full half-hour after he had time to shower and dress? He still launched into Crabtree with his “mediocre” tirade, unleashing yet another rant that rivaled last year’s when he told Skip Bayless that he was better at life than the ESPN personality.
So he doubled down with his ridiculous outbursts, and we haven’t even mentioned the choke sign that he gave to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It’s just not OK to do that. I can’t even believe I felt the need to write that sentence; it should be understood. But I guess it’s not. Asked if he regretted giving the choke sign, Sherman said: “Nah, man, it’s Reggie Miller,” referencing the former All-Star guard who famously did it in an NBA game.
Sherman, like Barkley, probably doesn’t want to be a role model. But kids are watching him and looking up to him. Many want to be like him.
The hell of it is, Sherman has a great story. Tough childhood in Compton, Calif., going to Stanford, converting from wide receiver to cornerback, a fifth-round draft choice, a third-stringer here, and now he’s the best cornerback in the NFL. But he obscured all of that with his latest outburst.
If you’ve got issues with Crabtree, take them up with him. I don’t care if Crabtree disrespected you at some Arizona charity softball game. I don’t care if he didn’t shake your hand. I don’t care about any of it. Your team just won a huge game. Why not celebrate the fact that you’re going to the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to a terrific play that you just made?
Because I’m a Seahawks fan, I don’t want Peyton Manning to burn Sherman in the Super Bowl. But there’s a big part of me who will look forward to the day that football humbles him, and younger receivers beat an aging cornerback who isn’t as good as he used to be.
It will be interesting to see how he handles all of the media next week in New York. If I’m his dad, I’m telling him to be a toned-down version of himself. Plus, I’m telling him to show a little humility.
And I’m reminding myself of something else. I was talking to a former teammate of mine at the Post-Intelligencer, Art Thiel. He asked me to think of the times I’ve had my own outbursts without cameras and microphones around. I immediately thought of a time when I completely crushed a laptop out of frustration. Literally threw it and stomped it to smithereens. If you’d seen that 15-second tirade, you would’ve thought I was a crazy person. Maybe you do already, I don’t know, but that was a less than flattering portrayal of who I am most of the time.
At any rate, let’s see what happens from here. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but I’m ready to cut Sherman some slack.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.