I knew it was coming.
From the time Richard Sherman opened his mouth after his Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship Sunday night, I knew it was coming. Yesterday, it dropped. The apology. Ugh.
I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the unpredictable would happen. I was hoping that maybe this would be the one time an athlete seized his first amendment right with no apologies. I was hoping that maybe there would be an unequivocal silence that would speak for itself.
However, I get it. As a PR consultant, I totally get it. It had to be done because this story had become bigger than the result of the game. More than 36 hours later, Sherman is still the number one trending topic on Twitter. Some are praising him. Some are enjoying the moment. Some are calling him names. There are memes, spoofs and t-shirts popping up all over cyberpace. I have read articles of support, articles of condemnation and articles of indifference. I have shaken my head so many times
Thug. Bully. Uneducated. I have seen those words thrown around so many times I need an assistant to keep count. Thug. Bully. Uneducated. Maybe there is a different Richard Sherman people are referring to. Surely, none of the talking heads are referring to the Richard Sherman who graduated second in his high school class with a 4.2 GPA and holds a degree in Communication from Stanford. Oh, and he graduated from there with a 3.9 GPA. Surely, they are NOT referring to THAT Richard Sherman.
As I sit here, typing earnestly, at the computer, I am wondering when did sports become so watered down that everyone has to place nice in the sandbox at all times even in the midst of battle. I think a lot of people have forgotten that we all are different. Every player does not study the game the way Peyton Manning does. Every player does not display the fiery passion for the game that Ray Lewis did. Every player does celebrate their on-field accomplishments the way Deion Sanders did. However, is that not part of what makes sports so enjoyable for most? Men and women from all walks of life with different personalities competing for the same goal.
As I have stated previously, Sherman’s actions at the end of the game were less than desirable. However, I stand by my previous statement that I have no problem with his words and the more I think about it, I am beginning to think I do not have a huge problem with his actions. Was the pat on the behind and the “friendly” extension for a handshake from Michael Crabtree necessary? Absolutely not. That had potential fisticuffs written all over it. Things could have gone left really quick and no one in their right mind believes Sherman was thinking good sportsmanship in that moment. That is sports!! If he apologized for anything, it should have been for the that. Again, I get it. I really do. Sherman had just made the biggest play of his career, thus far, to send his team to the Super Bowl. Many of us would be excited in that moment, operating off pure adrenaline. Many of us would want to celebrate. Many of us would want to rub that in the face of the opposing player whom the play was made on. Yet, some have crucified him for being caught up in the moment as if we have never gotten “caught up” when someone cuts us off in traffic.
Bottom line is this: its football! A brutal sport that is not for the weak. It is rough, you have to be tough and trash talk happens, a lot. There are some players who passion oozes out through the way they approach the game. Then, there are players whose passion oozes out through their words in a way that scares some. At the rate things are going, soon players will not be able to express themselves at all for fear of being labeled everything they are not. Well, unless you are Tom Brady because then you can berate officials all you want and no one will say a thing.
Yeah, this San Francisco 49ers Faithful went there.