After an incredible season that ended with the hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy, people are still asking Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman about his NFC Championship Game post-game comments. And he's still happy to go into great detail to defend them.
At a recent forum on entrepreneurship at Harvard University, Sherman -- along with fellow all-pros Larry Fitzgerald and Arian Foster -- was invited to talk by Domonique Foxworth. Foxworth is in his first year as a graduate student at Harvard Business School and used his connections to bring in some high-profile athletes to talk to the kids.
I'm not really sure what Sherman's post-game comments have to do with entrepreneurship, but apparently the forum also mixed in some talk on professional athletes as role-models. So, naturally, Sherman's tirade came up and we were fed the standard four course meal in his responses.
By way of the Boston Globe:
"People said I had no class," the All-Pro cornerback said. "What is class in sports? What exactly is it? Do I say great game and go cookie cutter? No. I don’t think he played a great game."
"If it was Larry, and the same situation happened, I wouldn’t have said a thing. Because I respect Larry."
So, you see, young minds of America, it's perfectly acceptable to be a poor role model to children watching when there's a personal beef involved that none of them knew about.
Sherman received heavy backlash from his 15-second tirade, particularly on Twitter, where Sherman said the response from many was hateful and racist in tone. He said one word he heard a lot was "thug," which he said was used because he is black.
There are two constantly rehashed narratives in this blurb that prove Sherman -- with all his intellectual accomplishments -- continues to be blind to.
This notion that the tirade was quick and in the heat of the moment is completely ridiculous, because after an hour of celebrating on the field and changing in the locker room, the words continued on the podium in front of TV cameras. Then, several minutes later on a local broadcast up here in Seattle, the same words kept flying from his mouth.
Secondly, regarding his being called a thug on twitter. Before he decided to tell the world that he was being labeled as such -- which surely only amplified the attacks on the social network -- how many times was he called that? Did he have the time to filter through thousands of mentions, or did he see it a couple times and decide to respond publicly in frustration?
The final thing I'd address:
I purposely didn’t curse, use vulgarity, [but] you’re going to get [called] the angry black man regardless.
As a white man, this is a difficult subject for me to broach, but I really feel like Sherman is pushing a narrative that he saw from a a vocal minority, labeling a larger audience than what was actually represented.
Were there some idiots saying stupid things on the Internet that night? Yes. Were some of them racially driven? Yeah, for sure. But I truly believe that, like many things on the internet, it was trolling thanks to anonymity. I believe that a large portion of those lashing out at him on twitter were just angry, stupid football fans -- not bigots.
Just like the issue with the Harbaugh butt-tap incident, where Sherman wants us to believe one thing -- despite video evidence that he is flat out wrong about the accounts of what happened -- there are serious fallacies in his accounts of what happened after that NFC Championship Game. He makes up his mind of what has occurred, and spins it to the public that way.
Sherman just sensationalizes things. Mole hills become the mountains when he speaks, and I don't necessarily think that's because he's speaking without thinking. On the contrary, seeking the spotlight during his limited window -- something I don't think he's naive enough not to recognize -- to build his brand is a wise move. I'm sure he has plans and dreams beyond football, so building that brand and its worth isn't a bad idea.
So, look, I don't think Richard Sherman is stupid. I don't think he's a thug. He's a fantastic football player, with a keen mind for the game. He studies hard, stays out of trouble, positions himself well and anticipates with the best of them. None of these traits are the result of being a dummy.
But while he's a Standford graduate -- which, again, comes with plenty of earned praise -- I don't believe that entitles you to say anything you want, with an asterisk attached that it can't possibly be wrong because, by golly, you've got a piece of paper that says you're smart. Especially when you're portraying yourself as a role model.
He should probably be moving on from this. You won the game. You won the next game after that and will soon be sized for a ring because of it. But you continue to push the same thoughts out every time this issue is brought up, even though there are several holes in your story.
An intellectually superior person would have not only corrected the falsehoods in their story, but they would have moved beyond the pettiness of the situation months ago.