Monday, January 27, 2014

3 comments Richard Sherman Is Just Really, Really Dangerous

I'm sure most people saw Richard Sherman's post-NFC Championship game interview with Erin Andrews. If you didn't, Sherman freaked out and talked junk about Michael Crabtree after the game and said Crabtree was a sorry receiver. I'm surprised Gregg Easterbrook doesn't agree since Crabtree is the cause of the 49ers struggles under Mike Singletary due to the "Crabtree Curse." Either way, this interview gave sportswriters a chance to hop up on their pulpit and state that Sherman is a bad sport and probably the worst person in the world. I have two such columns today, one from "Slate" and one from the incomparable Jay Mariotti.

First, "Slate" asks why "everyone" is celebrating Sherman's behavior. Of course one look at social media and the various columns written about Sherman's outburst tells me that not "everyone" was celebrating Sherman's behavior, but I guess it's easier to spit a column out when based on a somewhat false premise like this one.

In the waning moments of the NFC title game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made a heady play to send his team to the Super Bowl, tipping a pass into the air so his teammate could intercept it. A few seconds later, Sherman pantomimed a “choke” sign in the direction of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He then razzed San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree, patting his butt and offering a mocking handshake. (Crabtree responded with a frustrated shove to Sherman’s helmet.) Once the game was over, Sherman proclaimed to Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews, “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!”

I thought it was funny because it was a football player unfiltered. Also, it taught a very valuable lesson about talking crap about Richard Sherman. Don't do it.

It took only a few seconds for Twitter to begin yelling back at Sherman. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg joined a slew of others who called the Seattle corner “classless.” 

But remember, the premise of this column is that "everyone" is celebrating Sherman's behavior. It turns out that's not true and the author admits that in his column. (deep sigh)

Soon, a second wave of punditry emerged to right these initial wrongs. Forbes noted that Sherman had graduated second in his high school class and gone to Stanford, “So not only is he not a fool, odds are he’s smarter than you and me.”

Ah yes, a summary of the events seems to be taking up the first part of this column while I patiently wait for how "everyone" celebrated Sherman's behavior and why this was so wrong. Just killing time...

A YouTube video circulated in my Twitter feed like a piece of pro-Sherman agitprop, demonstrating Sherman’s intellectual approach to the game and the value he places on hard work and preparation.

Whether Sherman takes an intellectual approach to a football game and how hard he works is sort of irrelevant in terms of whether his outburst was appropriate or not. It seems like a way to simply defeat the "Richard Sherman is an idiot thug" comments that were going around immediately after the interview. Taking that one event and deciding Sherman is a thug, while using his film viewing and game preparation as an example to frame the incident in one definitive manner or another seems irrelevant to me. A so-called thug can still prepare really well for a football game, while a studious person who takes an intellectual approach to the game can still say something publicly he regrets. Ask Peyton Manning about his "idiot kicker" comment a few years ago for proof of this.

Others focused on the racial dynamics. In a piece titled “Richard Sherman and the Plight of the Conquering Negro,” Deadspin’s Greg Howard argued that Sherman had become “a proxy for the black male id” and that condemnations of him were “based on the common, very American belief that black males must know their place.” The Nation’s Dave Zirin alluded to “stomach-churning racial coding” and described Sherman as “an archetype that has been branded a threat as long as African-Americans have played sports.”

Boy, it's taking a minute to get to the point isn't it?

I will gladly allow that the sight of middle-aged, white sportswriters evincing disgust at the brash behavior of a young, black athlete is depressingly familiar. I also shudder to align myself with the smarmy snobs who use a loaded term like “classless” in talking about a guy who grew up the son of a garbage man in Compton, Calif.

The second someone writes disgust at potentially aligning himself with another group of people, there's always a good chance that person is about to align himself with this group of people.

But can I draw a line here?

I’d like to request that we stipulate a few basic notions.

What follows are nine basic notions, so the author actually wants to draw nine lines here and not just one.

The first six points are basically that Sherman was being dick no matter where he went to school or how well-read he was. I agree. He was being a dick. I don't know if it was being a bad sport though and I'm not sure "everyone" is celebrating his behavior.

7. It turns out that Sherman and Crabtree have history—Sherman’s brother alleges that Crabtree tried to fight the Seahawks player at a charity event. Most of Sherman’s defenders haven’t bothered to mention the existing personal feud. But to be clear: While the prior beef adds some context, those two wrongs don’t make what Sherman did right—or, more precisely, not dickish.

No, but it does point out the background on why Sherman seemed so angry at Crabtree and felt the need to rub it in when he made the biggest play of his NFL career on a pass intended for Crabtree. I think the line I would like to draw is if two players have a previous feud then there's a good chance the bad blood will spill over to the field and also spill over into an interview done two minutes after the bad blood on the field has ended. Emotions were still running high at that point.

8. Talking smack in the lead-up to a contest, or in the middle of it, is permissible. It falls into the hallowed tradition of gamesmanship. Dancing on graves after the battle has been won is dickish.

How the hell does this make sense? So Richard Sherman could have called Michael Crabtree a mediocre receiver and a sorry receiver PRIOR to the game in an interview, but once he's backed up his words after the game has concluded he can't point out how correct he was? How is dancing on graves after the game dickish if it simply backs up the smack that was talked prior to the start of the game? I can't figure out how gamesmanship prior to the game in an interview is fine, but gamesmanship after the game isn't fine...especially since Sherman seemingly backed up his feelings about Crabtree.

9. And this is the most delicate of these notions but needs to be addressed: Whatever archetypes may be conjured by the specter of white people tsk-tsking a black man who loudly brags alongside a blond woman, those uncomfortable overtones don’t change the fact that, in this case, in that moment, the man was being a dick.

No, but why is it okay for Sherman to be a dick before the game has started?

I also recognize that the despicable, racist language being lobbed at Sherman needs to be shouted down, aggressively. But that doesn’t mean that Sherman was acting in a commendable manner when he wrapped his hands around his neck to signal that Colin Kaepernick choked. Or when he needlessly taunted Michael Crabtree

Actually, this "needless taunting" took place during the game so it's perfectly fine according to notion #8. Right, talking smack in the middle of the game is permissible. That's what Sherman did by pointing out Kaepernick choked and by taunting Crabtree. Try your best to stick to the rules (sorry, "notions") you have made up.

Why can’t we say that Sherman is probably a great guy who did not act like one in the moments after the NFC championship game?

Despite the author's attempts to push reactions towards "He's a thug!" or "He's a great guy!" I think most people do think Sherman is a great guy who didn't act like a nice guy after the game. That being said, it was still funny to see a professional athlete call out an opponent immediately after the game like that.

So let’s glorify Sherman for what deserves glory: his amazing performance on the field, and his accomplishments off it. He doesn’t deserve to be virulently attacked for his actions at the tail end of the NFC title game, but please let’s not celebrate them

I'm not sure his actions are being celebrated, but Sherman's adrenaline was still pumping after the game and he said what he thought when he was immediately interviewed upon the game ending. This is why the media waits to speak to athletes in the locker room after games, so the athlete can shower and prepare responses to questions asked. 

As Sherman wrote: “[I]t was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am.” Yes—a small, dickish part of who he is.

I'm still confused how it's okay to show gamesmanship during a football game according to notion #8, but Sherman was out of line for taunting Kaepernick and talking junk to Crabtree immediately after the great play by Sherman was over. Isn't that supposed to be permissible? I guess gamesmanship is fine unless the gamesmanship isn't fine.

Now Jay Mariotti urgently tells us about the dangers of Richard Sherman, and in such a caring fashion, he gives Pete Carroll unsolicited advice. The title of this column is "Carroll Must Realize Dangers of Sherman Tank." This is a reference to Sherman's March through the South after the Civil War I would presume, except Jay must have failed history because tanks were invented until the 20th century. But hey, it's a catchy title for a column isn't it? Actually, it really isn't catchy either.

Without intervention, the screaming loon who assaulted America’s senses with a post-game slam rant would have been devoured by the media throngs awaiting him in New York. Sherman was ready to attempt a Super Bowl takeover next week, but his coach, understanding how such a daily farce could distract the Seahawks and leave his player vulnerable to untold viral controversies, moved quickly to corral the Sherman Tank.

Simply because Richard Sherman made one comment after the game about Michael Crabtree doesn't mean he was looking to take over the Super Bowl. The media has the ability to control the viral controversies that they attempt to start, but I know that would take self-control and the need to not chase controversies which result in easy stories to write, so that's not an option.

Nothing can destroy a team in its proudest moment, Carroll knows, quite like a media maniac obsessed with himself.

Jay Mariotti understands this because he looks in the mirror everyday at someone who fits this description perfectly.

If Sherman proceeds with more stunts like his already-infamous Fox interview with Erin Andrews — and we can’t assume he won’t until next week is over — he may have been recalled as the idiot who buried his team with his mouth in the world’s media capital.

I think Jay is taking this a little far. Sherman simply called out Crabtree in an interview. He hasn't done anything like this in his previous two seasons in the NFL, so I don't think this one interview is a preview of an entire Super Bowl week of Sherman running his mouth and telling the entire world which receivers are mediocre and which are not. Let's not run too far with this story and make it more than it is.

“We try to stick to Rule No. 1, which is always protect the team. It’s the rule we live by. You always represent us. In a time like that one, it was a little bit representing yourself. How we handle it is we try to grow and learn and work our way through who we are and figure out who we want to be. This was an extraordinary learning opportunity. You’ll see some benefit from it.”

This is great advice from Pete Carroll that Richard Sherman didn't heed. It's unfortunate, but his comments to Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship game wasn't a prelude to more hi-jinx during Super Bowl week. Of course Jay Mariotti has to make it seem like Richard Sherman is a loose cannon who is liable to say anything at any point, even though this hasn't been proven to be true. Jay tries to be as extreme as possible, it's part of what makes his writing style so wonderful that no major mainstream news outlet cares to employ him.

“I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates … That was not my intent,” Sherman said in a text message to ESPN.
Earlier, Sherman said, “Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently. But it is what it is now, and people’s reactions are what they are.”

“But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is.”
As a Stanford guy, Sherman knows the meaning of hypocrisy.
And he is a flaming hypocrite.

Says the sportswriter who trashes mainstream and large organizations like ESPN and FoxSports after desperately trying to get them to hire him prior to taking this job writing for Sports Talk Florida that probably gets 500 hits a day judging by the complete lack of comments on Mariotti's columns. But here is how Sherman is a hypocrite. Be prepared.

He’s complaining about “bullying” language? Just what would he call his rant on Crabtree, a lullaby?

I'm guessing Jay didn't do well in school as it pertained to "Reading Comprehension." Sherman isn't saying his rant wasn't a form of bullying, he was saying the slurs and language aimed at him is FAR WORSE than what you'll see from him. He's saying what he said after the game may have been wrong at the time, but those who took offense to his statement about Crabtree are using stronger and much more hurtful language that he classifies as bullying.

Of course, what mean things Sherman said to Crabtree wasn't known until a few days after the NFC Championship ended. I'm not sure this counts as "bullying." Listen to Sherman "bullying" Crabtree after the game. 

The Super Bowl media game is old hat to him, as it is with Broncos coach John Fox and executive John Elway, and their overall equilibrium could be a major deciding factor as we see how Sherman and other flamboyant Seattle players handle the attention siege.

Somehow Jay Mariotti has managed to take these comments by Richard Sherman and turn them into the entire Seahawks team calling out their opponents and making statements they will regret all through Super Bowl week. Walter Thurmond has stated Welker's hit on Talib was uncalled for, but only the most desperate sportswriter (and ESPN did this) could say he "blasted" Welker.

What else did Carroll tell him? “There’s some stuff in there I think you should think about and did you really want it to come out the way it did and talk our way through that,” he said. “And he didn’t. He didn’t feel right about that. There were a lot of great things that happened (Sunday) night and we’re talking about some other stuff.”

Officially now, the Seahawks are hateable.

I actually like them better because of this. I appreciate an NFL player willing to tell his true opinion on an opponent every once in a while. At a certain point, constant comments about Crabtree would be overboard and get boring, but a quick peek behind the curtain of trash talk was a little refreshing to me.

They’re as loud and boisterous as their decibel-busting, mini-quake-shaking fans. Their architect, Carroll, escaped USC as the building was burning down and the NCAA was swooping in, and he also has this annoying way of saying “cool” a whole lot when he’s 62 years old.

It seems Jay Mariotti is desperately clinging to the "good versus evil" narrative for the Super Bowl. The Broncos are of course "good" and the Seahawks are "evil."

Then there’s Sherman, the most vocal member of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, who may not be able to himself in making enemies and spewing noise.

I guess Sports Talk Radio can't afford an editor for Jay. Read that sentence again. It makes not of sense.

As you will discover these next two weeks, he is the face of this upstart franchise, full of dread,

I don't understand how the Seahawks are full of dread. They don't seem to be full of dread at all. They seem eager to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

adorned with dreads and armed with a big head.

Oh, so that's why. Jay wants accuracy and the ability of his readers to comprehend what he is writing to fall by the wayside in favor of rhyming and cutesy writing tricks. I'm guessing he learned this from Rick Reilly during his time at ESPN.

We all remember Sherman, of course, for approaching Tom Brady after a victory and asking him, “You mad, bro?” Then he tweeted of Brady, referring to secondary mate Earl Thonas,

Quick! I need an editor now!

I'm not sure who Earl Thonas is, but I do know Earl Thomas plays safety for the Seahawks.

“He told me and earl to see him after the game when they win … I found him after ….” What Sherman does is turn in-game verbal jousting into warfare.

Actually, it seems like Sherman takes trash talk prior to the game and reminds the person talking the trash after the game is over that he backed up his bravado. I'm not saying I enjoy it all the time, but it's fun once and a while.

And that leads us to ask: Is he possibly going to be dumb enough to say something that will tick off Manning, who has more than enough motivation as it is to win this Super Bowl for his personal legacy?

The sports media can only hope that Sherman says something about Manning and they will certainly be baiting Sherman all week to say something negative about Manning so it can be blown up into a huge story.

Not only are the allegiance roles drawn definitively — Manning as the sentimental favorite, the Seahawks as the loudmouths in his way — 

Idiot writers just prefer putting narratives into a box where everything makes sense and there is zero nuance involved with these storylines.

Said Crabtree of Sherman: “He’s a TV guy, I’m not a TV guy,” Crabtree said. “He didn’t make any other plays in the game … But he made a good play there. He can keep talking. You make one play and you talk? Good play.”

Later, a Crabtree tweet was more biting: “`Film don’t lie… @nflnetwork @espn pull up the tape of that game and show me where this guy is the best? #fake #fake #fake.”

And of course if Michael Crabtree had said this in front of an open microphone then I'm sure everyone would be up in arms at how rude, unprofessional and dangerous these comments are, right? He's turning in-game verbal jousting into warfare!

Richard? “He wouldn’t make the top 20 of NFL receivers,” Sherman said. “If any team had a chance to pick Crabtree, they wouldn’t draft him.”

The slap on the butt? “I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that’s what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now. There has been a lot of talk from him running his mouth about me.”

What's interesting to me about this feud and Jay Mariotti writing about this feud is that Jay had his very own feud when he worked in Chicago with Ozzie Guillen. If any writers knows what it is like to exchange words with someone who doesn't like you then it is probably Jay. Of course, when Guillen fired back at Jay he chose to cower in his office and shoot his mouth off in print rather than say anything without the protection of not being in the same room as Guillen.

I wouldn’t have minded Harbaugh in New York.

It's good to know the San Francisco 49ers would have had Jay Mariotti's permission to play in the Super Bowl.

The 12th Man will be represented in New York by Richard Sherman. He can make more noise than 68,454 people combined.

"He's such an entertaining loud-mouthed black man! Dance for us all! Put on a show so I can judge you for it!"

Will he listen to his coach?

Doubtful. You know how headstrong these educated, loud-mouthed minorities can be. Always flaunting their intelligence by talking loudly and never following the directions given to them.

Carroll said. “At times they are going to make mistakes and break your heart, but if you love them, you stay with them. You give [them] the best chance to be all they can be.

“Richard is a wonderful spirit. He’s got an amazing heart, and he has great sensitivity. He goes all the way to the end of the spectrum when it comes to expressing himself.”

Which is exactly what should concern the Seahawks as Manning quietly licks his chops, ready to exploit a raging distraction.

Clearly, Jay Mariotti wants to embrace this distraction while also criticizing Richard Sherman for being dangerous. Jay thinks Richard Sherman is a jerk and hateable, but he sure likes that Sherman has given him something interesting to write about. 

Without intervention, the screaming loon who assaulted America’s senses with a post-game slam rant would have been devoured by the media throngs awaiting him in New York. Sherman was ready to attempt a Super Bowl takeover next week, but his coach, understanding how such a daily farce could distract the Seahawks and leave his player vulnerable to untold viral controversies, moved quickly to corral the Sherman Tank.


Ericb said...

"The title of this column is "Carroll Must Realize Dangers of Sherman Tank." This is a reference to Sherman's March through the South after the Civil War I would presume, except Jay must have failed history because tanks were invented until the 20th century."

The Sherman tank was the main tank used by the US army in WW2.

JD said...

Call me crazy but Richard Sherman's interview was an instant classic. He had the emotion and feel of someone that had just accomplished an incredible single act in his work history while being watched by 50 million people and on the microphone he let it all out.

I loved it.

I'll take the energy of a Sherman interview over the platitudes and drivel that has infected the sports world.

Don't get me wrong, this can't happen all the time. A QB does not get to pull out his junk and start the smack talk when he throws for a 6-yard TD to some no name in the 3rd game of the season. This is very situational.

In the Sherman case, it was the right moment to cut loose. And he did.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I fail history, though I was certain I knew what I was talking about. I will remove the egg from my face and blame my 9th grade World History teach Mr. Bowen. It's his fault.

JD, me too. I rewound it and watched it three times. It was fun and I recognized he didn't always act like that.

It's not like Sherman does that all the time.