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Earning his words

| Thursday, January 23, 2014

So what’s up with Richard Sherman?

Not him personally, mind you. I’m wondering about the situation around him.

By now everybody’s probably seen the aftermath of the NFC championship game, where Seattle cornerback Sherman helped advance his team to the Super Bowl after deflecting a would-be touchdown away from 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and into the arms of a Seahawks teammate. Then Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews asked Sherman for his thoughts on the game and, well, you know what happened next.

My biggest question in the wake of the “sportsmanship” and “graciousness” argument is what did we expect from him in the first place? Even before he declared himself “the best corner in the game,” he’s been pulling similar stunts throughout his career. After all, didn’t we all secretly admire the way he went after ESPN First Take’s Skip Bayless, calling him an “ignorant, pompous, egotistical cretin?” (What sports fan hasn’t thought that about Bayless?) But now that he lets out a burst of passion after playing a critical role in getting his team to the Super Bowl, we’re supposed to expect that he should have just put those feelings of excitement away? Would you?

Did Sherman hurt anyone? No. Other than Crabtree’s feelings, maybe, but having played this game I can a guess how Crabtree will respond: tear Sherman apart the next time they meet and then say absolutely nothing and let Sherman eat crow. And Sherman will probably just laugh and take it in stride, knowing that Crabtree won that round. It’s all in the game, right?

And Sherman at least walks the walk to go with talking the talk (and talk … and talk …) With 20 career interceptions in his three seasons in the league, he has objective evidence that he is in fact the best corner in the game.
But athletes are supposed to be role models, you might think. Well, why not at least consider Sherman as one? He came straight out of Compton, Calif., graduated high school as salutatorian, went to Stanford (one of the best schools in the country, if not the world) and returned for his last year of eligibility to begin work on a master’s degree. It’s hard enough getting an undergraduate degree without playing a sport as time-consuming as Division I football, let alone a master’s degree while playing it. And if he isn’t enough of a role model for you, then you can always look at his teammate: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (on whom you could write at least two columns’ worth.)

Sherman makes the game fun. And in reality, there are far worse things you could be than a smart, talented cornerback who jaws with his opponents. So you can bet that I’ll enjoy watching him in the Super Bowl — getting burned again and again by Peyton Manning and the Broncos. What? I may like it when there are “villains” in sports, but that doesn’t mean I have to root for them, right?

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