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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The NFL's Sherman Interview

Because we live in Europe, I often don't watch US sports until the next morning.  This was the case of the Seattle-San Francisco football match-up last Sunday.  In order to preserve the fun of watching it live, we stay off the internet, avoiding all social media because we know that fans like to tweet their every thought.  I'm much the same way!  The end of the game was epic.  I thought the Niners were going to pull it out but then Sherman got in the way of Crabtree making a catch.  It was an awesome play.  So when the game ended and I was able to see the jaw-dropping interview that Richard Sherman gave while talking to Erin Andrews, I had no other media influence in my brain.  My initial reaction was that he acted like a jerk in saying he was the best cornerback in the game while calling Crabtree a sorry receiver.  So I jumped on Facebook and wrote, "Nice game Seattle but Sherman was a real jerk at the end. Hate it when the pros act like such idiots. (Which unfortunately is more often than not.)"  And then I got started with my day.  Little did I know that the entire social media world had been blowing up with posts about this fateful interview.  Then a really interesting thing happened.  Seattle fans began to posting articles that lifted up Sherman's character and some comments on my Facebook post seemed to come to his defense.  There's a lot of commentary about this interview and lots of name calling.  One of the articles I read lifted up his character and his brains and all of the good stuff he's done in life. And in another interview that he has given, he seeks to give a bit more context to the Andrews interview.  
There were several things that have interested me about this situation.  First, I never said that Sherman IS a jerk.  I said he acted like a jerk, which I still feel he did. I thought it was jerky of him to make the choke sign and to keep referring to Crabtree as a second rate receiver.  Even in his explanatory interview he referred to Crabtree as a subpar player.  In fact, he said this,"If you put a subpar player across from a great one..."  Now, I don't care how much character or difficulty Sherman has had to overcome in his life.  No matter what school he went to and how smart he is, these comments are arrogant and taunting.  It's not nice and does not reflect well on his public persona.  Another defense of Sherman came in the form of, "well everyone does it."  OK, what are we, 13 years old?  C'mon.  The pros need to lead by example and mostly what I see are cocky, arrogant examples.  It's distasteful to the average fan. Other comments have been focused on how silly the post-game interview is.  True or not, it's part of the game and all the players know it. So just learn how to do it with grace.  
Now, what I find equally appalling is that people have expressed their opinion of Sherman in racist and bullying ways, attacking his character and his personhood.  But it does go to show the power of a few minutes of ranting in the public sphere.
Look, I am a competitive, intense, demonstrative person.  And if you've ever met my father, you understand well where it all comes from!  I've had my share of incidents while playing and coaching and even in life.  I've been mired in conflicts and outbursts that have cost me dearly in terms of what people think of me.  And I rarely if ever feel good about it when it's over because it's also not the whole story of me.  But it's a story that lingers and so we need to think about that when we're put in the unfortunate or fortunate position of being in front of a crowd who care about what you think.  
The interview definitely does not tell the whole story about Sherman but for those of us who don't know much about him, it just left a bad taste in our mouth.  And again, I stated that he acted like a jerk, not that he is a jerk.  And again, I think the racial slurs and other references to his inherent character are really wrong. But I find it equally interesting that Seahawk fans are finding ways to make excuses for his comments...like he is the best, so what's wrong with him saying so, or he came out difficult circumstances and overcame a lot of stuff to get where he is so he has the right to be loud and arrogant.  He doesn't need to be humble because his game proves how great he is.  One reporter even stated that as a nation we're not ready for lower class Americans from Compton to succeed.  I think that is quite the overreach. So for lower class Americans from Compton, the sign of success is that you can be arrogant and rude on public television?  I'm just not sure where that reporter is headed.  I do not judge Sherman's entire character on this interview.  He is obviously an amazing cornerback.  And he's obviously got a big personality.  But there are better ways to endear yourself to the public than by berating other players while singing your own praises.  I'll watch the Super Bowl with interest and hope to get to see some of Sherman's amazing talent in action again. And while I think I'm cheering for Denver on Sunday, (with teams that I don't really care about, I won't know until my gut tells me once the game starts) I would be very happy for Seattle to win because I like a good underdog.  What I don't care for much are arrogant pros who mouth off and strut around the field like gods and throw the choke sign at other players, no matter what circumstances they've come out of to get there.  Just let your game speak for you.  Sherman...if you'd had given a less obnoxious interview, the talk about you this week would've been all about your awesome game. Instead, you just gave us a whole bunch of silliness to focus on.
In the midst of all the Sherman ranting and raving, I also read an article about Peyton Manning, quarterback for the team Sherman's team will play in the Super Bowl.  At the end of this article Manning said this, "Dad said it best when he said it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it."  Perhaps this truth was never more demonstrated than in the 3 minute post-game interview that Sherman gave.