I hesitate to bring up the nation's obsession of the week, primarily because it is becoming played out but also because socalisteph has some thoughts on the matter, but talking briefly about Richard Sherman so easily launches me into discussing what I actually want to discuss.
So, I will just say this succinctly and move on: no matter how great of a Football player Mr. Sherman is, his conduct after the game speaks to his character as a human being. And, being a good person is vastly more important than being a good athlete. No matter what your play looks like on the field, no matter what perceived slights you suffered at a charity event, don't act inappropriately after the game. Trash talk is okay on the field, but that's where it should stay. If this were the first time Mr. Sherman had acted with dubious conduct, then I would be more than happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, it isn't.
I only bring this up to highlight a quotation from Patrick Willis regarding NaVorro Bowman: "I know how tough he is ... When he couldn't get up on his own and I could hear him yelling, at that point I didn't even care where the ball was." I read this quotation as demonstrating, perhaps implicitly, that Willis understands how important it is to separate the person from the player. When his friend went down in utter agony, the game became unimportant to Willis.
Much has been written about Willis' charity work, his past, and his relationship with his family. Because this is a 49ers blog, I will assume that you all are familiar with his outstanding contributions to the community. I've never seen anybody question Willis' character. He, by all accounts, appears to be a genuinely good human being. And, I think his admission after a heartbreaking loss that he had so little regard for the ball on a key drive by the Seahawks speaks to how important his friendship with NaVorro Bowman is.
Is this all subtext? Perhaps; maybe I'm reading into a quotation to talk fondly of a man I respect. Of course I want Willis to be a good man because he plays for the team I support. But, I think this quotation backs up what we already suspect: we all like Willis because he is a good person first and an amazing athlete second.
I'll end with a quotation that, perhaps, makes this subtext more actualized. "This game is huge and no one person is bigger than the game," Willis said. "But the bond we have is so much deeper than the game we play."