Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the best players in the NFL. A Stanford graduate, he now plays for a Super Bowl-winning team and runs a successful charity that provides children with clothing and school supplies.
Yet all it took for the loud, proud black man to be declared a hoodlum was a little bit of adrenaline-charged passion and a camera in his face.
For those not inundated with the social media obsession about Sherman over the last several weeks, the All-Pro came under fire following an emotional post-NFC Championship game interview.
Seconds after the contest ended and the Seahawks earned a trip to the Super Bowl, Sherman declared on live television that he was, “the best corner in the game,” yelled to the camera, “Don’t you ever talk about me,” and called San Francisco 49er Michael Crabtree a “sorry receiver.”
In what has become a recurring theme, Twitter was abuzz with hateful words immediately following the interview. Detractors likened Sherman to various members of the primate family, called him words I won’t dignify by repeating and referred to him as nothing more than an overpaid thug.
Unfortunately, the response is hardly surprising. Sherman deviated from the usual script and such a move is bound to be met with criticism. Most athletes in similar positions thank God, teammates and fans, and some even pay respects to their opponents in a show of good sportsmanship. There’s nothing wrong with these answers, but expecting all athletes to give the same empty, politically correct responses is unfair.
Many players trashtalk on the field, and slamming them for continuing that dialogue in interviews is wrong. Sherman refrained from using any profanity, and his candor was much-appreciated by fans sick of hearing the same responses from players and coaches over and over again.
It’s not as if Sherman’s claims are unwarranted either. Since entering the league in 2011, he has more interceptions and passes defensed than any other player in the league. He has also allowed the lowest opponent QB passer rating when targeted. If that doesn’t give him reason to boast, then I’m not sure what does.
A Compton, CA native, Sherman was also the salutatorian of his high school class with a 4.2 GPA, and graduated from Stanford University in 2010, before returning in 2011 to use his last year of NCAA eligibility and pursue a master’s degree. Not too shabby.
Crabtree, meanwhile, has averaged just over 700 yards a year in his five seasons in the league, struggling to live up to his lofty draft status as a first-round pick. He also allegedly attempted to fight Sherman at an offseason charity event, only lending credence to Sherman’s verbal attack on him after the game.
The only criticism of Sherman’s post-game rant that I can understand is calling him out for taking away from the team’s victory. While he does have a legitimate case as the best cornerback in the NFL, his play is buoyed by the great work of the team around him. Sherman himself admitted as much after his adrenaline wore off.
Still, had Sherman boasted the same way about his team and put down the 49ers instead of Crabtree, I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t have faced the same backlash.
Richard Sherman is black, has tattoos, dreadlocks and he yells and boasts in post-game interviews. None of that means he’s a thug. The scrutiny on outspoken black athletes like Sherman won’t go away anytime soon, but, especially since this is the case, it’s time the media and fans alike accept him as a positive role model and not the villain many make him out to be.