Richard Sherman Speaks His Mind, and That Should Be Applauded

by Kent Sterling

Seattle Seahawks cornerback tells Fox Sports Erin Andrews exactly what he thinks after yesterday's win.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback tells Fox Sports Erin Andrews exactly what he thinks after yesterday’s win.

A black man loudly speaks his mind, and he’s a thug.  A white guy does some posturing, and he’s a colorful character.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman called out San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree after a game where both men took their jobs very personally as they battled one another.

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When Sherman was invited immediately after the game by Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews to describe the play that sealed the game for the Seahawks, a beautiful deflection by Sherman that led to an interception,  he went off, “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me.  Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.  L.O.B.! (Legion of Boom)”

Crabtree’s averages going into the game during eight games, including the playoffs, were 4.5 catches, 60.9 yards, and 0.1  TDs per game.  Yesterday, he was targeted eight times, caught four balls for 52 yards, no TDs, with one pick.  In the Week 14 season matchup against the Seahawks, Crabtree was targeted eight times, caught four for 40 yards, no TDs, and one pick.  So he was roughly as good (or “mediocre” to use the word Sherman has employed again and again to describe Crabtree) against the Seahawks yesterday as he was against everyone else.

Sherman is one of the best corners in the game as evidenced by the low number of times opponents targeted the receiver he defended in 2013.  The leader of the Legion of Boom was only targeted 58 times on 1,003 defensive snaps.  No one else with 1,000 snaps played or more was targeted less than 79 times.  Darrelle Revis was targeted 63 times on 972 snaps.

The point isn’t whether or not Sherman was right; it’s whether Sherman was justified in honestly baring his feelings into a microphone repeatedly after the game.  The answer is, of course, yes.

In our 24/7 news cycle society, news and sports networks enjoy prompting and airing raw emotional outbursts.  The talk today had very little to do with the AFC and NFC Championships, and everything to do with Sherman sharing forthrightly about Crabtree’s mediocrity and Sherman’s own superior talents.

A survey today on shows 40% of fans believe Sherman’s rant to Andrews was “Funny/entertaining” and 60% view it as “Not cool”.  What would the response be if Wes Welker went off after the Broncos game about how Alfonso Dennard or Kyle Arrington couldn’t stop him?

People say, “Act like you’ve been there before” or “be humble in victory and gracious in defeat”, but most of the time these phrases follow a black man speaking out.  And when that black man looks like a guy who would scare them witless if alone with them in an alley, the response belies that fear.

Being inoffensive should not be the goal of any man or woman.  Some of the best men in world history were defiant as they spoke publicly.  We are celebrating one of them today.  While Dr. Martin Luther King didn’t play sports or yell about a football player being mediocre, he said things that upset a great many people.  That so many were driven to annoyance and violence by a man who tirelessly preached love should inform all of us as to the value of the opinion of the majority.

Muhammad Ali was seen as insolent because of his words and actions.  His stance as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War cost Ali his championship and more than three years of his ability to earn.  Converting to Islam resulted in society viewing him as a heretic.  Today, Ali is viewed as a leader and paragon of virtue for the same decisions that caused castigation in the 1960s.

Of course, King and Ali are two extreme examples of men speaking their minds with positive results.  Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman do it too, and unless Rodman can leverage his friendship to motivate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to abandon his post as the sheriff of Crazytown, those honest men will even the scales for those considering a life of blunt declaration.

The point is not that Sherman should be seen as some sort of prophet, but that saying what you feel and believe is a good thing, even when it irritates.  Our society has evolved toward believing we have the right to never be annoyed, but annoyance sometimes evolves into discussion which then inspires understanding.

Cut Sherman some slack, and examine your reaction before casting judgement.  Modest and measured is dull.  We need more boat rockers, and Sherman rocked the hell out of that boat last night.

6 thoughts on “Richard Sherman Speaks His Mind, and That Should Be Applauded

  1. Warren / TN.

    I couldn’t cast a vote for any of the choices. Here’s my take. I think some guys in the league get their fire from “a perceived slight” attitude. Sherman strikes me as that kind of player. I’m sure that the confrontation he had with Crabtree (being they are in the same division) has led to some squawking back and forth many times. Division rivalries are often like that.

    Sometimes players will see something on film and tag a player as being dirty. Sometimes the back and forth jawing on the field goes too far and they take offense to that. Sometimes they may well see an interview or even read something where they take away the idea that the opposing player is making a veiled insinuation or disrespectful remark, whether it was made specifically about them or not.

    The bottom line is, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter because they solidify that perception in their mind, and carry it forward with them. It is contrived, in one sense, Once they make up their mind and when it colors their personal perception in a negative way, they feed both physically and mentally, off of it.

    I could be totally wrong about Sherman, but it’s just my gut feeling that he’s like that. I’m perfectly fine with it as well. It does add spice to the enjoyment of a game from my perspective. I would love to see those that talk the talk and walk the walk and back it up do it more. Nothing wrong at all with that swag when you rock that boat like he did against the 49ers !!!

  2. kurt

    We saw the comments live after the game. As soon as we heard what he had to say, we laughed at him, called him a jerk, and changed the channel. He didn’t deserve anymore of my time. I saw it as class-less and unsportsmanlike. Not sure why Sterling continues to bring race into the conversation about comments made by atheletes, but this seems to be a continued topic for you to hit on when poor comments are made.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Race belongs in the conversation until people stop evaluating behavior based upon race – as it has been with Richard Sherman. That’s not to say that many have evolved beyond that, but there is a significant sect that hasn’t.

  3. Jason H.

    I think you’re right I on the money sir. Sherman didn’t use vulgar language or say anything outrageous. He only displayed confidence. He was obviously fired up. Rightfully so, considering he just made arguably the biggest play in Seahawks franchise history. We need more of this in sports. The usual Cleaver family soundbites are getting awful stale.

  4. Dirk

    You really just compared Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King to Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman? Ali and King were advancing a cause that they believed in and effectively used their notoriety as an asset in their efforts. I’ll agree that Owens and Rodman are also advancing a cause, albeit themselves. Therein lies just one of many differences.

    I didn’t have any problem with Sherman’s initial rant other than him calling out Crabtree. If you were going to call anyone out it should have been Kaepernick for throwing to Crabtree. Crabtree had nothing to do with the play other than being the receiver that Sherman was covering. Crabtree pissed Sherman off with the shove after the play and Sherman simply reacted with mouth before engaging brain. Something that many of us do, sometimes too often. Unfortunately, he had a microphone and camera stuffed in his face for all to hear/see.

    Had he not called out Crabtree the entire exchange would have been seen as an emotional outburst from a very talented player who just made a great play to help get his team to the Super Bowl. Now it is national sports fodder and diminishes what Sherman did on the field as a player. The exchange with Stephen A and Skip Bayless was equally senseless and self-promoting. Sherman doesn’t need to diminish other people to make himself look good. At a young age we call that being immature. As we get older we simply call that being an a$$.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      The comparison between Ali/King and Rodman/Owens shows the difference between profound and loud. Being outspoken doesn’t guarantee wisdom.

      There are infinite differences between Ali/King and Rodman/Owens.

      Sherman is a smart guy, and he’ll learn, but Ali engaged in a lot of the same self-promoting rhetoric – before and after becoming outspoken in his stances on race and the war. He might have been the most effective self-promoter in the history of sport. He used his supposedly adversarial relationship with Howard Cosell to great effect. Sherman and Bayless differ in that Sherman appears to have genuine disdain for Bayless while Ali and Cosell respected one another a great deal.


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