By now we’ve probably already seen all of the clips of Richard Sherman’s postgame interview with FOX sideline correspondent Erin Andrews after breaking up a pass and causing an interception in the final minutes of the NFC Championship game. If you’ve been living under a rock and you haven’t caught it, here’s the clip that everyone is talking about:
So there it is. You can make your own judgment on whether or not it was out of line, but the sporting media as well as all of the social networking sites have already told you how to feel based on how we expect athletes to act. I am going to use an unpopular take here and tell you that I don’t think any of this is a big deal. So I’m going Deep Six plus bonus points on this one and I am going to give you several reasons why this is not a big deal.
1) This is Richard Sherman here, not President Obama
Sherman is an NFL cornerback. The rule in the NFL is as follows: The closer to the sideline you line up, the more hotheaded we can expect you to be. That’s why in fifty years you’re going to see nursing homes full of guys like Randy Moss and Richard Sherman covered in tattoos, and they are going to treat the staff like absolute shit. Personally I don’t think that a man in his position acting and talking in this manner is too far off the beaten path, and especially in today’s NFL.
Sherman is a guy that’s more Little Richard than Eric Holder. He doesn’t have to sound exceptionally astute when answering questions regarding his job performance, because when it comes down to it he is just a football player. This isn’t a guy that’s negotiating any international business matters, or someone who we are counting on to stop terrorism. Hell, 30% of people who are of voting age don’t even cast their ballot when it does matter so why should we be so concerned about something like this?
2) We need to stop being so surprised that a “Stanford Graduate” acted in this manner, because we all know that athletes don’t really complete their collegiate academic training
The one thing that I heard Sunday night more than anything else is that Richard Sherman should “know better” because of his education at Stanford, a school well known for its high standards of behavior and academics. What a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that he’s an athlete – none of this stuff applies to him. He got a full ride scholarship so I can’t really blame him for taking advantage of that opportunity, but at the same time I’d be willing to put my money on the fact that a tutor did a majority of his homework. As a college athlete, there are so many different ways for an athletic director to arrange tests or other exams to be in an area where the athlete has the access to all of the answers within his reach.
Is it right? Of course not, but that’s not up to us to decide here and it’s not what we’re discussing. And if we’re talking about what is right and wrong, then we can easily transition into another tangent here about how all of these educational institutions (which are in fact, private entities) are making bajillions of dollars by selling jerseys and other merchandise bearing the likeness of these athletes without compensating them. And I don’t want to hear a damn word about how they are receiving an education, because I just established that in theory they truly aren’t getting one.
Richard Sherman is in fact a Stanford graduate, and I can’t take that away from him. But he still has an athlete’s master’s degree, and most Americans are well aware of what that really means. And just because he attended that school three and a half years ago doesn’t mean that he is still a part of that mentality, especially when you consider the lifestyle of an NFL football player. Oh, and he was also in a frat. So, you know…the guy clearly had no ins. (fart noise)
3) Nowhere in the postgame interviews did Sherman use profanity or foul language
What’s the problem with what he said? He said that Michael Crabtree was “mediocre” and “sorry”. Since when are those words a violation of FCC regulations or social norms? And why all of a sudden are we so hung up with who’s classy and who’s not? Didn’t that all go out the window in sports the second Albert Belle chased those kids off of his lawn? You can’t police classiness…it just doesn’t work.
If he had walked out and used the F-word three or four times during the interview, then we might have something here. But he didn’t, and compared to what those guys are really saying between plays this was nothing. Calling a guy “sorry”, and then calling him “mediocre” is a pretty run-of-the-mill assessment when you consider some of the things that dudes like Opie and Anthony say on satellite radio every morning. And if you can justify it, then more power to you…
4) And about Crabtree, he wasn’t wrong
If there was anything that was inaccurate about Sherman’s assessment of Michael Crabtree, it would have to be that in one breath he called him mediocre and in another breath called him sorry. That was really the only inconsistence in his use of the NFC Championship as a bully pulpit to tell the rest of us what we already knew: Michael Crabtree is an average receiver in the National Football League. He has a tendency to get hurt, and he’s a bit of a pain in the ass. Let’s go over Michael Crabtree’s NFL career for a moment and see if Sherman was inaccurate.
In 2009 Crabtree didn’t show up for training camp and initially planned to sit out the entire season as a means for bargaining leverage. It was the first time in four years that a rookie had done such a thing, and by mid-September he had already became the longest rookie holdout in franchise history. So right off the bat, he wasn’t exactly winning fans over with his lack of willingness to play. He had a decent rookie season, but his statistics would have been better if he had started week one instead of waiting until a month and a half later. In 2010, he played well for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season but had a very sub-average year the rest of the way.
In 2011 he got injured in offseason workouts, but had the best season of his career to date with 874 receiving yards. He played well in the divisional game against the Saints, but then shortly thereafter ate a dick in the NFC Championship game against the Giants with 28 total yards. In 2012 he had a career season due mostly to Colin Kaepernick’s ability to find him as an open man.
In 2013, he didn’t even play a down until December 1st because he had to have surgery on his Achilles tendon, and was hardly effective aside from the Rams game. He’s never made the Pro Bowl once, and only has a total of 22 receiving touchdowns in his professional football career.
Now does that sound to you like he’s going to end up in the Hall of Fame? No. And will Richard Sherman end up there? Probably. Therefore, it’s not like Sherman went out of his way to say something that wasn’t correct in order to make his voice heard.
5) All week we were hearing about how much these two teams hated each other
That’s not my opinion…it’s a fact. There is no way that I concocted this out of thin air. ESPN sold this to you all week as a battle of hate. They wanted you to love the other game for the fact that there were so many guys who were classy – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, it even had the cool backstory of Champ Bailey getting to go to the Super Bowl after 15 years in the league. And they wanted you to watch this game hating most of its participants because there were so many unlikable individuals involved. Think about it: Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh were the coaches, then you had Richard Sherman who is not only the center of this piece but most people didn’t like anyway. Then you throw in Colin Kaepernick whom a lot of sports fans view as smug, Golden Tate whom everybody hates because he still thinks he caught that ball last year against the Packers, and the rest of the Seahawks franchise who relies on their unbelievably obnoxious fan base to force delay of game calls. And you could even bring up the fact that Anquan Boldin was running his mouth all game against Carolina on the road last week as a reason to hate him too, or just use the fact that he looks like Shannon Sharpe which is reason enough for me.
The point of all this is that there’s no way we can expect to be offended by the words “sorry” and “mediocre” after the NFL held a sporting event in a building that’s the closest thing our generation has to being able to view a public execution. This is exactly what they wanted, and they got it. Regardless of your opinion of Sherman, it wasn’t that out of the ordinary for him to react in the way that he did during the Erin Andrews interview. And while you think for a second why he may have reacted that way, also consider when he was forced to react…
6) When you interview a guy right after he’s walked off of the field and just won the biggest game of his life, you’re going to get an overwhelming sense of emotion and intensity just might be one of those emotions
What’s the point of these guys doing on the field interviews anyway? The press conferences that they have to give follow the postgame speech and any celebration that might have taken place, so are we really so impatient that we can’t wait twenty goddamn minutes for everyone to calm down and (I don’t know) return to a reality where 70,000 screaming fans aren’t staring at a football field?
We’ve gone on record here at SBM (At least I know Dubs and I have) to say that there is way too much on-field interaction with the media and the players and coaches of professional sports teams, and it’s only going to get worse from here on out. (If you don’t believe me, ask San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich) Maybe the media needs to back off of these participants a little bit so they can provide us with the best entertainment that their respective sports have to offer. If the NFL ever gets to the point where we are interviewing coaches and players between quarters, you’ll know this whole thing has jumped the shark.
Now let’s go over three bonus points so we can go Deep Six and a half on this whole thing and never discuss it again…
7) Bonus Point Number One: We don’t know what Crabtree was saying to Sherman
Sherman may have given the choke sign to Crabtree, but Michael also hit him quare in the helmet shortly thereafter and didn’t even get flagged for it. Not like it would have mattered at that point, but they still didn’t and we don’t know what Crabtree had been saying the whole game because he didn’t say it into a microphone. After the game they interviewed Crabtree about it and to me he seemed like a little bit of a sore loser and a lot like a whiny little bitch, saying how it was just one play and basically suggesting that Sherman isn’t any good which is crazy talk.
Even in Sherman’s world of trash talk and incessant barking, there is the remote possibility here that Crabtree also said some things that weren’t exactly favorable. If he learns from his peers, I’m sure that there are plenty of things he picked up from guys like Boldin and a few others. I still haven’t ever seen Michael Crabtree do anything outside of the college game that has impressed me, so until I do this one just looks like your standard spat.
8) Bonus Point Number Two: Everybody feeling sorry for Erin Andrews for this happening in front of her needs to understand that this is her job
Erin Andrews is a sports journalist. She hears and sees stuff all of the time that she knows she can’t share while she’s employed, and she’ll probably write a book about it someday and it will make millions of dollars. I’ve heard all sorts of comments on social media about how I am supposed to feel sorry for her, but it increases her marketability just like it does for Sherman which I will outline in my next point. This is what she does for a living, and she loves it.
(And let’s be honest, there is probably a little bit of an element of racism here when you think about it. I’m not the type of guy who cries foul at a lot of racial stuff, but there is definitely something a majority of America probably doesn’t like about seeing an African American with dreadlocks snap right next to a young, attractive white woman on national television. To not mention it would be missing this part of the story and that would be inaccurate. It looked like Busta Rhymes was going off right in Hayden Panettiere’s face…)
Additionally, why in the world did this woman feel the need to ask who it was that was talking trash to him? She was standing right there, and she knew damn well it was Crabtree so there was no need to play dumb and ask that question. And she better be prepared for it again in two weeks because if Richard Sherman goes all Tracy Porter on Peyton Manning’s ass and wins the Super Bowl MVP. Most sports fans would kill for that job, and anyone of either gender should consider themselves lucky to be in that position. Sherman’s “rant” was nothing more than a minor occupational hazard, the only danger being that you are having your likeness broadcast on YouTube for millions of more people to see. Speaking of which…
9) Bonus Point Number Three: There is no such thing as bad publicity
Richard Sherman is going to be fine for one reason that has nothing to do with his football skills, which have already been widely recognized: We are talking about Richard Sherman. He can charge whatever he wants to for an interview on any one of the many morning national talk shows and they will gladly pay him. When I woke up on Monday morning, the first thing that my phone told me is that 54 of the people that I follow on Twitter are now following him. As long as Richard Sherman doesn’t break into your house and pee all over your couch, he’s a part of the conversation that isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
With social media out of control and everyone who owns a computer now having an opinion on everything, it’s not difficult to see why things like this get blown out of proportion. This sort of forced outrage is an exponential thing in the sense that when something happens, everyone overreacts and in a sense hypocritically commits the same behavior that they are intending to condemn in the first place. It snowballs into this massive internet debate and if you have a Twitter account, you have a voice now. I think we all need to take a little step back and realize that even in the world of sports, this is probably a non-story. Which does make me feel a little bit stupid for spending three hours typing this up, but at least I’m not faking like I’m offended simply for the sake of making it sound like I’m upset.