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updated: 2/2/2014 8:26 AM

It's tough to know if Sherman truly gets it

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  • Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman warms up during NFL football practice Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.

      Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman warms up during NFL football practice Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
    Associated Press

  • Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman arrives at Newark Liberty International Airport for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Newark, N.J.

      Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman arrives at Newark Liberty International Airport for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Newark, N.J.
    Associated Press

  • Richard Sherman (25) tips a pass in the end zone intended for San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree (15) in the final minute of the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Seattle. Seattle's Malcolm Smith intercepted the tipped pass. Sherman was fined $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting after he made a choking gesture after the play toward the San Francisco bench that he said was directed at quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

      Richard Sherman (25) tips a pass in the end zone intended for San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree (15) in the final minute of the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Seattle. Seattle's Malcolm Smith intercepted the tipped pass. Sherman was fined $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting after he made a choking gesture after the play toward the San Francisco bench that he said was directed at quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
    Associated Press

  • While his teammates celebrate behind him, Richard Sherman reaches out to shake hands with Michael Crabtree after Sherman tipped a pass in the end zone intended for Crabtree in the final minute of the NFC Championship Game.

      While his teammates celebrate behind him, Richard Sherman reaches out to shake hands with Michael Crabtree after Sherman tipped a pass in the end zone intended for Crabtree in the final minute of the NFC Championship Game.
    Associated Press

 
 

How many Richard Shermans does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Just one.

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He simply holds on and the world revolves around him.

This is where we are two weeks after Sherman's postgame rant against the 49ers and Michael Crabtree that shook the world, broke Twitter and placed the Super Bowl focus squarely on a cornerback -- instead of a quarterback.

Let's go back to the seconds after he made the play of the game, when he was celebrating with his teammates in the end zone, but left them and ran 30 yards to Crabtree, finding him walking toward the Niners' sideline.

Sherman hit him on the backside, said, "(Heck) of a game," and stuck out his hand. It was as insincere as an athlete can be in that situation, and you know that if you've ever competed in a sport.

That's a moment when you're not thinking of your opponent at all. Crabtree knew he was being mocked and pushed Sherman away.

Sherman continued by moving toward the San Francisco bench, stopping and making the choke sign at QB Colin Kaepernick.

The level of disrespect was stunning.

Don't misunderstand because aggression and arrogance in a player is essential. If you're not confident, you're not surviving and succeeding at any level of sports. Volume reverberates and intimidation consternates.

But disrespecting an opponent in victory is classless and unnecessary.

In Sherman's defense, if you're going to have a microphone on him or speak to him moments after a game, beware of what a competitive guy might say.

The problem is Sherman continued with the same thoughts an hour after the game, into the night and even the next morning, demeaning a fellow NFL player who has earned his place in the league and is also taking his life in his hands every time he steps on a football field.

Crabtree is just as much a man and courageous as Sherman, and he didn't deserve the verbal beat down. Yet, Sherman was praised for being flamboyant, honest and a breath of fresh air, though it defies logic to suggest it's a breath of fresh air to use the choke sign or call Crabtree sorry, mediocre and weak, and tell him to get his butt home to mama.

Mr. Honesty was gone by the time he reached New York for the Super Bowl, having gotten religion the previous week. Most likely, Pete Carroll or one of his teammates got to Sherman and explained the downside of dancing on someone's grave.

"Last week, I felt like I regretted just attacking a man, attacking it and taking away from my teammates," Sherman said during Super Bowl Media Day. "You never want to talk down on a man to build yourself up, and things like that. So I regretted that, and I regretted taking that attention away from my teammates. That's the one thing that I wish I could do again."

Was he sincere? No way to know. Was this still Mr. Honesty? Or was the air no longer fresh with the breath of flamboyance?

Even more bizarre were the comparisons to Muhammad Ali. Um, in what way, exactly? If being loud and irrational is the criteria, then Sherman was more like Skip Bayless and Johnny Manziel.

The Ali comparison is an insult to Ali. Or maybe I missed it when Sherman took on a racist country, a racist government, a racist legal system, a racist military-industrial complex and even a Supreme Court that at first was unwilling to hear his case.

That's what Ali faced. What happened to Ali is one of the great injustices of our lifetime, the best years of his life stolen from him by a country that can never give back what was taken.

Now, it's not Sherman's fault that he was compared to Ali, and when asked about it in New York, he seemed to have some understanding of what Ali encountered.

"It's very humbling to be compared to Muhammad Ali because of all of the serious ridicule that he went through, the serious racial degradation and stigmas that he had to fight, the stereotypes that he had to fight against," Sherman said. "He had to really stand his ground and almost go to jail because he wanted to stand up for what he believed in.

"So I think his situation was a lot more brave and a lot more serious than my situation is now, obviously, and he had to deal with a lot more scrutiny and just headache and criticism.

"It's a blessing, because he's one of my biggest idols, and a person that I really looked up to."

That's a decent answer, though it would have shed more light on both men had Sherman loudly explained -- as loud as he did when emasculating Crabtree -- that being criticized for trash talk is hardly on par with having your livelihood ripped from your arms because you're a political dissident being threatened with incarceration while conscientiously objecting to a war.

Of course, there's an element of racism in some dislike of Sherman. Racism will always be a part of life, but at least this America knows Richard Sherman's name. Ali's America would not even acknowledge that Cassius Clay had changed his.

As for Ali's flamboyance, it was 99 percent promotion and mind games. He made his opponents millions on top of millions with pre-fight insults, and after nearly every fight he spoke in glowing terms of his opponents.

Ernie Terrell refused to recognize his name and Ali tortured him in the ring, screaming, "What's my name?" over and over again while beating him senseless, but even after that fight Ali apologized for his antics.

No, Sherman is no Ali.

He's a tremendous football player and we'll see that again Sunday night, when he might even wind up a champion.

Here's hoping that if he wins, he has learned to win with class.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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