By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock or really can’t stand football, you know that the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, the preseason favorites for the Super Bowl, are actually going to be playing in the Super Bowl. By now, you know that Peyton Manning once again got over the stigma that he’s a choke artist in the playoffs. By now, you know that the Seattle Seahawks, barring anything totally unexpected, are a potential dynasty.
And yet, you choose to focus on Richard Sherman, the Seattle cornerback, who is arguably the best cornerback in the league, or so he thinks, and his vociferous postgame interview, which probably scared the living bejeezus out of Erin Andrews. The interview, which was essentially a call out to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree can be watched here.
After the interview, there was a lot of discussion over whether Sherman acted like a classless jerk, whether he should have kept his personal conflict with Crabtree out of the spotlight, and so on and so forth.
Some people even decided that Richard Sherman’s rant would make them temporary Broncos fans, because the Broncos are supposedly more classy than the Seahawks.
Wow. Decided to go with the broncos after that interview. Seriously dude?? Matt Harvey (@MattHarvey33)
Stay classy, Richard Sherman. Making it easy for all of America to become #Broncos fans. Steve Caparotta (@SteveWAFB)
And then of course, there were the idiots on Twitter and message boards who felt the need to drop an N-bomb in calling out Sherman.
I’ve heard of people rooting for teams for stupid reasons, “Because x player went to my school”, “Because the uniforms are awesome”, “Because they were the first team I saw in the Super Bowl/World Series/Stanley Cup/NBA Finals etc.” but this really takes the cake. To root for another team because one player decided to release his pent up excitement and anger in one post game tirade, literally minutes after he helped his team get to the Super Bowl, really shows how stupid temporary fan allegiances can be.
But this post isn’t about calling people out for being stupid, it’s for making sense of why Sherman did what he did, and why he was justified for doing it.
So we start off at the beginning. First of all, 49ers-Seahawks may be the best divisional football rivalry right now. Both teams are great, and seem to be destined to face off in important games for at least the next decade, both coaches have had experience playing each other even before the NFL called them, both have solid offenses and nasty defenses, what’s not to like?
There are, of course, those who take the rivalry very seriously. Sherman and Crabtree stand out the most. According to Sherman’s side of the story, which can be seen in this article, written by Sherman, the feud didn’t just start that night, but rather back in the offseason, in Arizona. In his piece, Sherman says that he could have caught the ball, had Crabtree not pushed him. Instead of holding a grudge right there, Sherman tried to act like the bigger man by saying “good game” to Crabtree, but when Crabtree pushed him again, he was free game.
While Sherman’s choke signal to Colin Kaepernick probably wasn’t called for, after all, he did have a somewhat respectable game minus the turnovers, his post game interview with Erin Andrews didn’t seem as bad as it was played out to be. Sure, Sherman yelled, sure, he trashed Crabtree by calling him a “sorry receiver”, and sure, it sounded like something out of WWE RAW, but in actuality, it was, for the most part, harmless.
Sherman didn’t swear in his interview, which showed at least a certain degree of maturity. His play against Crabtree and throughout the year also gave him a certain degree of traction on his “I’m the best corner in the game” comment. And for those of you who were confused by his LOB shoutout, it’s not a gang sign, it’s the initials for the Seahawk secondary nickname, Legion of Boom.
Here’s the problem. You as fans say that you are tired of the clichéd interview, the “we played hard and they played hard”, generic company line. And yet, when Sherman decides to exercise his first amendment rights and speak his mind, you suddenly become members of the morality police. “What a classless douche”, “That’s a low blow”, etc. Make up your mind, people. Either you want a degree of opinion, or you want the company line. If you like it, great, you like it, but if you’re so damn sensitive, then perhaps you should avoid watching sports altogether. Someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose. Some are going to be excited about going to the Super Bowl and show it, others are going to act as if it’s no big deal.
Do you fault Sherman for being excited? I certainly wouldn’t. This is the Super Bowl, perhaps the greatest sporting event in the country, if not the world. Even if there is a degree of parity in the NFL, going to the Super Bowl is harder than it looks. Sherman has every right to be excited, every right to show emotion, every right to say that he was better. He made the play that brought Seattle back to the Super Bowl. You say that Peyton has more class? May I remind you that Manning has already been to two Super Bowls, so obviously it wasn’t new to him. Heck, he’s already won one, as well as the MVP of the Super Bowl.
Don’t judge Sherman’s character by one interview. Don’t root for the Broncos just because your opinion of a team was affected by one interview. Don’t view Sherman as a villain because of an interview. Have an opinion that isn’t colored because of an interview. The goal of fandom is to root for a team because of the way they play, not because of the actions of one player. If that was the case, then there’d be a lot fewer Patriots fans because of Aaron Hernandez, and the Cleveland Browns would be one of the most popular franchises in the NFL.
Instead of letting the (almost) off-the-field headlines color your fandom, watch the game for what it is, a matchup between the best offense and the best defense. Enjoy the novelty of a game in a cold-weather city in an open stadium. Enjoy the commercials if you hate football, or if you hate football and commercials, enjoy Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Or, if you want to pick players, there are other players on each team that are just as easy to root for. Denver has Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, all great players. Seattle has Bruce Irvin, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Derrick Coleman. Don’t let it be Manning vs. Sherman. Enjoy the whole game for what it is.