Richard Sherman: What a Difference Two Weeks Make

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 1.26.38 PMThough much has been written and debated about Seattle Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman, on  the eve of the big game and with the just published issue of Sports Illustrated featuring a “Point After” commentary written by Sherman himself, I feel it apropos to take another look.

In a league where player off-the-field behavior is publicly and regularly measured with a ‘days since last arrest’ database, Sherman’s still on-the-field post game diatribe was widely lambasted as overly bombastic, inappropriate and unsportsmanlike, even detrimental to the image of a league trying to find a kinder, gentler, (law-abiding) persona.  That bothered Sherman. And that’s a good thing.

As he sought to explain himself in the days ahead, an altogether different picture of Richard Sherman emerged.  Intelligent, well-spoken and thoughtful, the former Stanford scholar, who returned to school in his final year of eligibility to begin a Masters degree, showed he was much more than the stereotypical mouth-breathing thick-necked, bone-cruncher; he was human, competing on a high-pressure stage and getting caught up in the moment.

In the SI piece titled, “What I Learned Last Week”, Sherman writes that, “I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.” He cites a tweet he received from a fan that opened his eyes to his position as a role model for kids.  And though he does not apologize in the piece, he does admit he could and probably should have acted differently.

Mike Valenti, Afternoon Drive host at CBS sports station 97-1 “The Fan”, was one of Sherman’s few defenders the day after the AFC Championship game, arguing that the players are entertainers and should be allowed to express themselves, in particular so close to the final gun, an argument Sherman references in his commentary. Thankfully, the Seattle defensive back was smart enough to step back, offering an explanation and perspective.  It’s what the NFL needs from its players and for its image.