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posted: 1/21/2014 5:30 AM

Let Seahawks' Sherman have his say, be his way

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  • Here's hoping the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks don't keep all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman from being himself.

    Here's hoping the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks don't keep all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman from being himself.
    Associated Press


Make it sound as raucous as the man himself: "Richard Sherman!"

Until recently, only hard-core NFL fans knew the name but now even casual football observers know it.

If there's any sports justice, soon everyone will know that Richard Sherman is the Seattle Seahawks' all-pro cornerback as hard-spoken off the field as he is hard-hitting on it.

The question is whether the NFL and the Seahawks will let him be him.

Sherman already apologized, probably after being coaxed, for his behavior Sunday. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll went on the radio and said his star cornerback made a mistake because the Seahawks don't want distractions as they prepare for the Super Bowl.

What a shame.

Sports generally and the NFL specifically need characters. Richard Sherman should be encouraged to speak up and stand out in our celebrity-crazed culture.

It's OK for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to be the face of the NFL for this Super Bowl. But the event needs someone to counter his straight-laced persona.

Someone like the Richard Sherman who made the play that clinched the NFC championship for the Seahawks, then taunted Michael Crabtree and went on all sorts of media forums to trash-talk the 49ers wide receiver.

Sherman became famous or infamous, and it shouldn't matter which.

Even an all-pro defensive back has to shout above the noise to be heard. Just ask Deion Sanders, perhaps the best shutdown corner ever. He wouldn't have been attractive to sponsors if he weren't Neon Deion and Prime Time.

The same goes for basketball power forwards. Dennis Rodman, a fabulous player and fabled Worm, didn't attract much attention until he took to tattoos, pierced body parts and messages shaved into his scalp.

Not even winning championships did as much for Sanders and Rodman as saying and doing things that screamed, "Hey, listen to me, look at me!"

Sometimes bad conduct is good for athletes. It isn't so much what you do but whether people notice and then spell your name correctly.

Sherman will be one of the primary attractions on Super Bowl media day next Tuesday. Judging by his performance after Sunday's victory over the 49ers, it'll be difficult to avoid hearing what he has to say. At least it will be if the NFL and the Seahawks don't succeed in muffling him.

Nearly as many journalists will surround Richard Sherman's podium as those of the quarterbacks and head coaches: What's he going to do? What's he going to say? Whom is he going to do it to and say it about?

Sherman is an intelligent man with a degree in communications from Stanford. He's also that madman whose commentary is as compelling as his play, sort of like a Prime Time waiting to introduce his star stardom.

If Sherman is allowed to be Sherman and Seattle beats Denver in the Meadowlands, a short limo ride from Manhattan, he just might be the Seahawk asked to read the next day's Top Ten list on Letterman.

Sherman says he doesn't want to be a villain, but his people might convince him that he can't squander this opportunity. Not many defensive backs become endorsement magnets, but a Super Bowl winner with name recognition is a hot commodity.

If a sponsor wants a spokesman to market sedans to seniors, they can always hire Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson. If a sponsor wants to market energy drinks to young adults, Richard Sherman is the man.

So much depends on whether the NFL and the Seahawks allow him to be himself.

Heck, what they should do is assign him a nickname like Prime Time or Worm or the Shermanator and get out of his way.

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