If you were at all surprised by Richard Sherman’s post-game interview last Sunday, I’m going to assume you don’t watch a lot of football. At least, you definitely don’t watch the Seahawks on a regular basis, or listen to the trash talk that has gone on between the 49ers and the Seahawks for years. The post-game interview, now often referred to as “the post-game interview heard ‘round the world,’” involved Erin Andrews, a beautiful, blonde and tiny reporter for FOX Sports, asking Sherman to take her through the final play—the play that won the game and is taking the Seahawks into what could be (knock on wood, everyone) their first Superbowl franchise win in history.
Sherman exploded. He yelled, “I am the best cornerback in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get! Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Seconds after the interview, Twitter—what I have long considered the cave where all racists dwell—exploded, calling him a thug and a variety of racial slurs. A large number of Seahawks fans (and others) have since come to his defense, and it is easy to see a common theme in their arguments—Richard Sherman went to Stanford. While I do write to defend Richard Sherman, I will not make that argument in support of him. Yes, attending Stanford shows he is intelligent; so does graduating in the top of your class in Compton just as Sherman did. However, the school that you attend does not determine your personality, as the Yale frat bros who chanted “No means yes, yes means anal” proved quite well (Big Think,“‘No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal’ Frat Banned From Yale” 05.18.11). I am a believer in equality. I don’t believe that simply because Richard Sherman is a black man who attended Stanford means that he is not a thug—I believe that Richard Sherman is not a thug because I have watched Richard Sherman play for years.
Richard Sherman loves to make people mad. He thrives off of it. Last season, Trent Williams of the Redskins got so mad at Sherman’s trash-talking that he punched Sherman in the face. I would like someone who thinks that Sherman’s trash-talking is detrimental to the Seahawks to point me towards three things: First, proof that his trash-talking does not act as motivation for Sherman, and therefore enables him to play better. Second, I would like proof that Sherman’s trash-talking the day before the release of a Dre Beats commercial featuring himself was in no way strategic. Third, I would like someone to track the personal relationship between Crabtree and Sherman, and prove that Crabtree didn’t deserve to be yelled about.
According to the Huffington Post article, this past off-season 31 NFL players were arrested for everything from gun charges and driving under the influence to murder (“What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America,” 01.20.14). Sherman’s record is clean. Not only has he never been arrested, he has founded a charity foundation to provide children in low-income families with school supplies. Not only has he never cursed in a post-game interview, but he is one of the smartest corner backs playing today, a player who examines his every move, strategizes, and makes a concerted effort, for example, to try and tip the ball to his teammates during one-on-one coverage—a play that is now taking the Seahawks to the Superbowl. Sherman has said, on multiple occasions, that trash-talking is a part of his personality, and that it is strategic. It fuels him, drives him, and is part of the reason he has been named First Team All-Pro twice.
Granted, his post-game interview, especially at first glance, was adrenaline driven and immature. However, when juxtaposed with the commercial for Dre Beats that was released the very next day, it seems, at the very least, like incredibly fortuitous timing. The Beats commercial features Sherman being interviewed by the press, who ask him questions like “Do you really think you are the best corner in the league?” and “Do you think your trash talking is a distraction to your teammates?” (to the latter, he answers that it doesn’t distract anyone, it motivates them, which is an answer that has been repeatedly backed up by other Seahawks players). This commercial is an almost direct duplication of his post-game interview, and, given Sherman’s communications major, I find it very likely that he was aware of the marketing advantage of saying what he said.
It seems like a lot to ask of any human, let alone an NFL player moments after he made the game-winning play, to put aside a longstanding negative personal history with another person after that person shoves you in the face. I’m just going to say right now that I can think of three people I would head butt immediately upon getting shoved in the face by them, and that’s at any time, let alone right after a long and physical game that I was playing against them. Like Scrabble. Sherman has stated that he doesn’t like Crabtree, the sentiment has been returned, and the two have a background of offseason bickering. The 49ers have gone as far as to say that the 12th man isn’t important, which is enough to have the whole of Seattle at their throats. I was massively unsurprised by Richard Sherman’s comments, because I know Richard Sherman, I know the Seahawks and their relationship with the 49ers, and I know how it feels to be filled with adrenaline after a huge win.
Post-game interviews are traditionally boring, with the coaches demurring that it was a good game for everyone and the quarterbacks saying enthusiastically that they will really have to work hard to prepare for their next game. Sherman, albeit loudly, provided the sports world with an interesting post-game interview that guaranteed the country will be watching him on Sunday night, and I cannot hold that against him.
—Lily Doyle ’14 is a political science major.