I wasn’t planning on writing anything about this, but as I continue to read the ridiculous bashing of Richard Sherman all over the interwebs, I can’t keep quiet any longer. The outrage over Sherman’s postgame comments is so ridiculous it’s almost mind-blowing. If you live under a rock and haven’t seen the interview, you can watch it here.
First and foremost, he didn’t even say anything outrageous or offensive. He didn’t use any profanity, and he didn’t attack anyone off-limits like a family member or someone who had nothing to do with the game.
Secondly, he had just made a stellar play that sealed his team’s ticket to the Super Bowl. He had just finished playing a game of football, one of the most violent sports on the planet. His adrenaline was flowing, and he was understandably hyped. To expect him to be completely calm and composed in that moment, in those circumstances, is asinine. You shove a microphone in a man’s face 30 seconds after playing in a football game like that, results like that are to be expected.
Thirdly, and I’ve touched on this topic before, athletes that reach the absolute pinnacle of their profession have certain characteristics that have allowed them to do so, and those manifest themselves in both positive and negative ways (and I don’t think this “incident” was necessarily a negative manifestation). The man thinks he is the best at what he does, and he has to have that attitude to be successful. Sometimes that comes off the wrong way.
The bottom line is that trash talking is a part of sports. Sports are competition, whether it’s at the professional level or a pickup game at the playground. It’s about showing you are better than your opponent, and pride is involved. In any sport, you are going to get trash talk, whether it’s millionaires who are the best of the best or just a bunch of guys from the neighborhood playing for nothing more than pride and the love of the game.
Many athletes have used trash talk to intimidate their opponents or to get in their heads and take them out of their games. Muhammad Ali, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Deion Sanders, I could go on and on. Hell, I even have a friend who has a bit of a temper, and we quickly learned that if you could agitate him and get under his skin, it took him completely off his game. And we took advantage of that. It’s gamesmanship, all a part of the competition and finding an advantage. And within the lines of the field or the court, it’s actually pretty fun. It adds spice. It drives the players to step up their game, either to back up the talk they are dishing or to shut up the guy who is running his mouth.
Furthermore, there are a lot of worse things that athletes do. Drugs, drunk driving, cheating on spouses, fighting, even murder. The point of this post isn’t to pass judgment on anyone, but if you are looking for reasons to lambaste an athlete, you can find a lot better ones than Richard Sherman’s post-game comments. I'm just so tired of the holier-than-thou and overly sensitive mindsets that have overrun our society.
Finally, for those of you who don’t know much about Richard Sherman besides what the media and internet comment boards tell you, the man graduated Salutatorian (second ranked) in this high school class and graduated from Stanford with a 3.8 GPA. That tells me he’s a lot smarter and harder working than most of the people who are blasting him. Oh, and he started the Richard Sherman Family Foundation. So no, he’s not a thug. He’s arrogant in a profession where arrogance is a survival skill. What all of the people who are crucifying Richard Sherman today fail to realize is that maybe Richard Sherman knows what he is doing. Maybe the abrasive, cocky man you see on the football field is a character. A character that allows him to survive and excel in a demanding profession. And maybe he’s just having some fun with it.