In a pivotal NFC Championship game, where two west-coast rival teams have legit hatred towards each other, the Seattle Seahawks came out victorious. The raucous Seattle crowd – known as the 12th man – went crazy when one of its key players made the game-saving play. As San Francisco’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, stepped back to throw an endzone pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, it was interrupted by an incredible play and player. That player goes by the name of Richard Sherman, one of the marquee defensive players in the NFL whom you may not heard of prior to Sunday night’s game. Richard Sherman, who is known for his radical play and trash talk, highly contributed to a critical interception that led to a Seahawks’ win and advancing to the SuperBowl. But for all the media and fans watching, the Seahawks’ victory was not the main story line after the game; it was the post-game interview/rant Richard Sherman had with Fox’s sideline reporter Erin Andrews – who had a “please get me out of this situation” look on her face.
Immediately after Fox cut the interview short, there was a huge uproar among media and fans about Richard Sherman’s antics. Some even went as far as to calling him a “thug.” Sherman instantly was trending on Twitter. As of today, that sideline interview has generated Sherman more than 350,000 extra followers. It was evident that Sherman instantly became an Internet star across America because of his interview, but unfortunately for Sherman, it has overshadowed the type of person Richard Sherman really is. Let’s just be transparent about the situation: Richard Sherman came of as a deranged, uneducated black man, but that is actually the complete opposite of who Richard Sherman really is. Sherman comes from a different background: the rough, poverty-filled neighborhoods of Compton, Ca., an area that is known for its low income, violence and gangs. While at Compton high school, Richard Sherman was a straight A student with a 4.2 GPA, which led to him getting a full-ride academic and athletic scholarship to Stanford University(an Ivy league school). Sherman played all 4 years at Stanford University (coincidentally under current 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh) and also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications, while averaging a 3.9 GPA. Recently, he went back to pursue his master’s degree. Some of Sherman’s former coaches are on the record to saying that he was always one of the first players to volunteer at the team’s charitable events. Richard Sherman is also the founder of his own charitable foundation called “Blanket Coverage.” The story, in itself, is phenomenal: an African American kid from Compton – an area that is statically higher for a kid to get murdered than make it out of college- gets accepted to one of the top academic schools in the country and,simultaneously, becomes a star on the school’s football team and makes it into the NFL. But if you was someone whose only perception of Sherman is trash talking in front of a national televised audience about Michael Crabtree, then you have Richard Sherman totally mistaken.
I found the interview to be laughable and highly entertaining, but it’s unfortunate that Richard Sherman is perceived in such a negative way because of the aftermath of Sunday night’s game; he’s a good, intelligent human being. But in a way, for Sherman’s sake, I totally understand why he conducts himself in the way that he does. I’m not in any way, shape, or form interpreting that this is why Richard Sherman has become the NFL’s number one trash talker, but I do feel that there is a method behind the Richard Sherman madness. By what you just read, there is no denying that Richard Sherman is an intelligent person; he knows it himself as well. But in the National Football League – a gruesome league in which its players have a very short timespan to make as much money as they can, it is imperative that players find multiple ways on how to market themselves and makes as much money as they can. Does the name Deion “Primetime” Sanders come into mind? I would say he made a little bit of money and did quite well for himself. But if you’re familiar with Deion, you would know that he wasn’t only a star for his play on the field; he was a star and marketable because he was “Primetime.” No one was more outspoken and polarizing in sports than Deion Sanders. It didn’t sit well for a lot of his critics; he was uncomfotable, at times, to put on live television because you didn’t know what he would do or say, but for Deion, it was brilliant. Deion made a lot of money for being “Primetime.” I am not comparing Richard Sherman to Deion Sanders, I’m just saying that a brother has to find a way to market himself and make it in the league. The NFL is a selfish, money-making league, because it only cares about one thing: The shield (the logo). Once you are worth no value to the NFL as a league, it wants no part of you. The only thing you get from the shield is a foot out the door. Take Chad Ocho Cinco for an example; he can’t buy his way back into the NFL because of his diminishing production. Also, do not forget that the Seahawks play in the Pacific Northwest – an area of the country that is considered NFL siberia. Seattle is always a forgotten city when it comes to the sport’s world. The only thing relevant in Seatlle is its Starbucks coffee and rain storms. It’s not often that you will see the Seattle Seahawks televised as the NFL game of the week. So why should we criticize Richard Sherman for taking advantage of one of the highest viewed football games of the year?
In my opinion, we should be happy for what Sherman did. He gave us what we all want in televised competition: that is entertainment. He did not use any profanity, he was just simply in the heat of the moment. He made the game-winning play in front of 80,000 roaring fans with adrenaline rushing all throughout his body; of course he will be a little rambunctious. Do we expect him to step up to the mic and be Mother Theresa? Plus, it adds for great theatre and more storylines to an anticipated SuperBowl. This is exactly what we want as fans; he gave us something to talk about.
Who is the real Richard Sherman? Is it the provocative trash-talker who gets underneath player’s skin or the intelligent Stanford graduate who has now pursued his master’s degree. I would simply say that Sherman is this: He is both. Off the field, he is an inspiration to all young people, especially African American males. Richard Sherman reminds us (younger people) that it is perfectly ok to be a superstar in the classroom and a superstar on the playing field at the same time. We always here stories about athletes not going to class while they were in college; Richard Sherman’s story will change that perception about athletes and students across the country. His story should remind us that all things are possible, just look where he comes from and where he is now. On the field, his aggressive play and trash talk is what fuels him to be one of the best players in the NFL. Yes, it can be a little much, but if he didn’t possess that, I’m not sure he would be the same player. So why should we fault him? Yes, his name, alone, has generated so much publicity in the last week. It has been the number one topic on ESPN all week. But maybe this latest antic was a good thing for Sherman. He has now become a household name in this country, and, in my opinion, a voice of reason; it’s only a matter of time before the majority of people know who the real Richard Sherman is. That will be an inspiration to all.