Anyone who follows sports or paid attention to the sports world yesterday knows about the interview Richard Sherman gave after his Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers last night to advance to the Super Bowl.
As a reminder, here’s what he said:
Reporter Erin Andrews asked Sherman to take her throughout he final play. His response?
Sherman: “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.”
A lot of people — mostly 49ers fans — got extremely upset with the way Sherman reacted. Other people — mostly white people — took to Twitter and unleashed a bevy of racial slurs in Sherman’s direction. Sherman was called a thug, a crazy person, unprofessional, and a whole lot more.
I thought his interview was incredible and candid, and I think way too many people are making too big of a deal about it.
I can understand why 49ers fans would be upset. Losing such a big game against your biggest rival on an interception off a tipped pass in the end zone is about as close as you can get to the Super Bowl without winning the game. I’m sure it hurts. As a sports fan, I know the pain and have been there before.
Still, that doesn’t mean that Sherman was wrong, either in what he said or how he said it.
Let’s take what he actually said, for instance. He said he’s the best corner in the league. This isn’t the first time he’s made this proclamation publicly, either. He does have 20 interceptions over the first three seasons of his career, including eight this season, which is tops in the NFL. Whether or not he’s THE BEST might up for some debate, but you can’t deny that he is in the conversation.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers knew this as well, considering they threw only two passes in his direction on Sunday night, including the last play of the game where Sherman batted the ball into the arms of a teammate for the game-clinching interception.
Sherman also called Michael Crabtree a ‘sorry receiver’ and later would describe him as ‘mediocre’. I think this statement is a bit unfair, considering Crabtree was injured for most of the season, as well as the fact that he had by far the best year of his career last season, tallying 85 catches (13th in the NFL) for 1,105 yards (14th) and 9 touchdowns (11th). Those are far from mediocre numbers, although Crabtree has failed to match them before or since. It’s still early in his career, however, to definitively say he is just mediocre, but you can’t yet call him great just yet.
It’s clear Sherman had some beef with Crabtree, which he hinted at today was related to an offseason incident that occurred at Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s charity softball game. He happened to bat down a pass intended for Crabtree which also propelled his team into the Super Bowl over its biggest rival. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Sherman would be pretty amped up immediately following the win.
Still, Sherman came off pretty brash and polarizing in his interview. Depending on your fandom, you probably either loved it or hated it. But anyone trying to paint him as a thug, loose cannon, or violent person has it all wrong.
Look no further than the woman who conducted the infamous interview, Fox’s Erin Andrews. In an interview with Dan Patrick today, she pointed out:
“He never threatened me, never cussed at me or the camera and I was never frightened to be honest with you…He just bear hugged me because he was so excited and I hit my chin on his pads and I was like, ‘Oh god, am I bleeding?’ So it was just so much raw, candid emotion all at once.”
If the person standing right next to Richard Sherman during his interview — literally touching him — didn’t feel nervous or scared or in danger, it seems silly to suggest that he was acting out of control.
Andrews also added, “Dan, how much have you and I wanted a moment like that where an athlete didn’t say, ‘We’re playing Seahawks ball,’ ‘We’re taking it play-by-play, game-by-game, this is what we wanted. He lost his mind and it was awesome for once, you know?”
I actually agree with this. How many times do athletes give the same old cliché answers when asked tough questions? Or, how many times do they not even answer the question itself? All too often, we criticize athletes for being boring or superficial or not emotional enough. Then a guy finally lets it all out, and we call him classless? That doesn’t make sense to me at all.
In a piece written for Monday Morning Quartback today, Sherman attempted to explain his actions on Sunday night. He also alluded to why he doesn’t like Michael Crabtree, saying:
“It goes back to something he said to me this offseason in Arizona, but you’d have to ask him about that. A lot of what I said to [Erin] Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don’t like him.”
Sherman also went on to write how he doesn’t consider himself a villainous person and does not want to be known as a villain. He then gave credit to his front seven and had this to say to any of his naysayers:
“To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on the football field — don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.”
So who is Richard Sherman off the field? This should probably give you a decent idea.
Richard Sherman grew up in Compton, California. He finished second in his high school class with a 4.2 GPA. He attended Stanford University and graduated with a degree in communications and went back to start his master’s degree in his final year of athletic eligibility.
In fact, watch this and see what you think of him:
If that doesn’t do it for you, then watch THIS VIDEO as well.
If you don’t believe these videos reveal as much or more of Sherman’s character as his 30-second interview with Erin Andrews on Sunday, you’re being a hypocrite. If you’re going to judge him by a short, post-game emotional interview, then 20 minutes of deep dives into his life and personality should elicit AT LEAST as much of a response.
He’ll probably never stop talking, but he won’t stop competing or working hard either. I’d love to have Richard Sherman on my team.
If you told me you wouldn’t, you’d be lying. Either to me or to yourself.