More than a week after Richard Sherman’s "out-of-control rant" loudly insisted that the NFL revolution would be televised, the confused, wrong-headed and even racist reactions to the Seattle Seahawks star cornerback’s live post-NFC Championship Game interview have not subsided.
And that’s too bad. Because the objections are infinitely more offensive than Sherman’s zanily passionate monologue.
In fact, Richard Sherman, now preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII against the Broncos — did NFL football exactly right that day. For 60 minutes and then for a few minutes more.
So right, in fact, that a few high-profile Dallas Cowboys, including Dez Bryant, should steal a page from his lecture notes.
For me, the media hypocrisy that drives this story to the front page isn’t the top issue… though it is an issue. Many of us complain that professional sports is now too orchestrated, too processed, too homogenized. And along comes a product of Compton, Calif. who became a Stanford graduate who wishes to scream his greatness into a camera?
What in the name of Muhammad Ali is wrong with that?
I also think it a minor sidebar that the victim of Sherman’s withering words is San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree because of the possibility that the two are in a feud dating back to last summer. That doesn’t add or subtract legitimacy from what Sherman did.
Which is… he spilled his heart and soul into 60 minutes of championship football, performing like the finest player on the finest defense on the finest team in the NFC, made the game-winning play with a deflection for a team interception on an end-zone pass intended for nemesis Crabtree, and then, only after the game’s outcome was determined…
Let his emotion run amok.
This is vastly different than what we saw of the Cowboys’ Bryant in this past season, when the Cowboys’ Pro Bowl receiver â young, gifted and passionate, an offensive mirror to Sherman, if you will â allowed his emotions to run amok within the confines of the field, within the confines of the game, within the confines of the 60 minutes.
Dez wasn’t guilty of all the sideline crimes he was convicted of by the court of public opinion. But even he admits he needs to mature to a point where his passion needs to be harnessed and funneled and steered toward the thing that must matter most.
You don’t help your team win when you remove your helmet on the playing field. That’s a penalty.
You don’t help your team win when you are so upset at a game’s developments that you misbehave on the sidelines. That’s a distraction.
You don’t help your team win when you are so distraught in the final seconds of a coming loss that you march petulantly off the field. That’s a potential breaking of a bond that is necessary for a team to remain intact.
Dez is not alone here. The Cowboys are not alone here. But they are among the many that can be learning lessons from Richard Sherman. We can push beyond the strong possibility that because some in America saw a man in dreads screaming into the face of a pretty lady (FOX’s Erin Andrews), there is a racist component to this "controversy." We can accept that in the aftermath - or hell, maybe as part of a clever masterplan â Sherman will become a Madison Avenue darling, making an extra million bucks selling Doritos or Pepsi or Buicks, much like Peyton Manning has become a pitchman for several commercials.
Sherman has since apologized and labeled as regrettable his "immaturity." Still, for some, this will be a simplistic soap opera of White Hats vs. Black Hats. Peyton ("The Sheriff!") vs. Sherman ("The Thug!") But the wiser Super Bowl viewer will see real similarities between arguably the best player on his respective team:
Manning, 37, is deservedly famous for pouring resources into success. No one studies harder and longer, no one is more prepared, no one better stockpiles his God-given gifts atop work ethic and time to invest himself in winning those 60 minutes.
And now we have Richard Sherman, 25, who is on the verge of deserving to be famous for the exact same thing.