I don’t watch football myself, so when I saw Twitter and Tumblr flooded with mentions of someone named Richard Sherman, I didn’t worry too much about it. After all, it’s almost time for the sports-kickers to have their annual Bowl Game, right here in New York City, so I figured it was just something to do with that. (You know which game I mean, right? The Superb Owl.)
But the story — and the ensuing controversy — is sticking around, so I did myself the favor and read up on it. Just so I have the ability to discuss something other than Justin Bieber‘s downward spiral when in large groups of non-bloggers. Here’s what I learned.
Richard Sherman is a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, who played the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this past Sunday night. The Seahawks beat the 49ers 23-17 and will go on to face the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to a pass successfully defended by Sherman. He hadn’t seen much action for most of the game (because according to my friend Nick, he’s so good that opposing teams don’t want the ball anywhere near him), so when Colin Kaepernick threw the ball to a 49ers receiver named Michael Crabtree that Sherman was covering, he was more than ready. He went up for the pass and tipped it to a teammate, who successfully intercepted it.
And since this was the final, game-ending play, Sherman was still really fired up when it came time for him to be interviewed by Erin Andrews, and went on a bit of a shouty rant. Here’s the video.
Sherman: “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you EVER talk about me.”
Andrews: “Who was talking about you?”
Sherman: “Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best. Or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick. L-O-B*.”
*Legion Of Boom, a nickname for Seattle’s defense
So, real quick — a couple of things to bear in mind here: 1. Sherman already has a reputation for (very intelligent) trash-talk, 2. this rivalry with Crabtree apparently goes back a pretty long way, 3. my friend Zach says that Sherman has had a chip on his shoulder since 2011 anyway, on account of being a fifth round pick, and 4. THIS MAN HAD JUST TAKEN HIS TEAM TO THE SUPER BOWL MOMENTS BEFORE.
Was his rant super gracious? No, absolutely not. Was it a bit much? Yeah, probably. But it came right after one of the most important moments of his career, so maybe we cut him a little slack? This dude’s a professional athlete, so can you really blame him for not turning his competitive spirit off the moment the game was over and won?
…apparently yes, we can. The immediate backlash to the rant came from people saying that it lacked class and was thuggish, which carries some pretty obvious racial connotations. And that’s not even getting into what people were saying on Twitter, where racial slurs were in disturbing abundance.
But luckily, there’s now some backlash to the backlash, as Sherman published his own intelligent, logical explanation for his actions. Part of which includes the fact that he tried to shake Crabtree’s hand after the game and got a palm to the helmet for his troubles. (See above.) In fact, his response was so well-worded that detractors started claiming he couldn’t have written it. At which point people pointed out that he went to Stanford, which is the most elite university on the west coast, so he’s probably capable of putting together an effing op-ed. C’mon.
But those same people refused to be convinced, taking things to an even more racially offensive ground by asserting that since Sherman is from Compton originally, he must’ve gotten into Stanford for football and not on merit. Even though he was the salutatorian at his high school and is now enrolled in Stanford’s Master’s program. It’s pretty crazy.
So I guess bottom line, feel however you want about the rant…unless it’s superior to Richard Sherman. Because until I see you attending what’s essentially an Ivy League school and taking your team to the Super Bowl simultaneously, you’re just a sorry receiver like the rest of us. PREACH.