By now, I’m sure if you’re a football fan, you’ve heard: Richard Sherman, defensive back for the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, doesn’t like the San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Michael Crabtree very much.
During Sunday night’s post-game press conference, Sherman…well, let’s just say he expanded on the idea:
“I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver. And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that’s what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now. There has been a lot of talk from him running his mouth about me.”
Crabtree, who spent most of the season on injured reserve, was playing in just his third game since coming back from his injury.
In any event, the big discussion hasn’t been about how the Seahawks played basically like crap and still won, or that Russell Wilson made a completely idiotic throw on a 4th down that somehow ended up a touchdown pass, or that Colin Kaepernick made their #1-ranked defense look silly throughout the first half. It’s been about how Richard Sherman is a bad person and bad for football.
Yeah, okay, Sherman hasn’t been the most likable of guys. Sure, he made a great play to save the game for his team, then tried to shake Crabtree’s hand immediately after the play. Crabtree responded by shoving his hand in Sherman’s face, and Sherman then turned and made a (admittedly hilarious) “choke” gesture as he hopped off the field.
Classy? No, not compared to Peyton Manning. Bad for football, though? Absolutely not!
If anything, more players should be trash-talking, arrogant and passionate braggadocios (hey, nice word!) like Sherman.
Can you imagine how much better football would be if, instead of mindlessly repeating platitudes like “It’s a team game,” “We all just gave 110 percent out there today,” and “I’m not in it for the money, I’m here to win championships” (Thanks, Jay Cutler!) athletes actually said what they were thinking?
Erin Andrews: Peyton, how would you rate your performance out there on the field today?
Manning: Well, Erin, you and I both know I’m the greatest quarterback who ever touched a football, who ever will touch a football. I’m just blessed to be able to play against weak-butt fools who think they can get past my dadgum cannon arm and robot vision. I threw 400 yards today. 400 yards! That’s four football fields! I could have been throwing fifty-pound dumbbells and my guys were so open, they would have kept on running. It was like the guys playing defense were wearing blindfolds dipped in suck juice.
Erin: You know what, Peyton, you’re right! Did you see Tom Brady, your close personal friend no matter what the media say about your “rivalry,” crying on the sidelines after the game?
Manning: Yeah, I did. I laughed. It was great. I’m gonna put it up on my Tumblr later, it’s called GreatestOfAllTime.com slash suck it Patriots. You wanna maybe hang out tonight? We’re celebrating at my awesome Denver mansion I afford with all the money I make being the best quarterback of all time.
See? Wouldn’t that make sports eminently more enjoyable to consume as a fan? These kinds of conversations occur between fans every single day, and we’re merely living vicariously through the athletes we revere. Fans honestly don’t believe this kind of trash talking happens at the same clip?
The counter-argument is that professional athletes should be held to a higher standard of behavior because of their very public name/face recognition and their role model status to young kids. My response is this: Sherman didn’t use any curse words. He called Crabtree “mediocre.” Most Americans, I’d be willing to bet, would be thrilled to be just mediocre. Hell, I’d be blessed to be a mediocre professional football player making $400,000 a year to run around and play catch with my friends. Besides, that post-game interview was just that: immediately post-game. This is a guy playing the most important football game of his life, he was directly responsible for winning the game against the guy he’s not a big fan of, and he’s supposed to say what, exactly? That he respects Crabtree for being out of position on the play?
Come on, guys. Get serious. Sports, especially at the professional level, are cutthroat. The very first play of the Super Bowl, Sherman could destroy his knee (much like Navarro Bowman did Sunday, and again, thanks to Fox for showing us the replay OVER AND OVER AND OVER) and never play a single down of professional football again. Same goes for athletes in nearly every other professional or Olympic sport.
Sherman is, objectively, one of, if not the best defensive back currently playing in the NFL. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to celebrate that in a way that doesn’t violate specific rules set forth by employers? Are the “unwritten rules” of professional sports so entrenched in the public’s love of the games that the players themselves are unable to simply bask in their achievements as much as the fans do?
It’s unfair to the athletes, it’s unfair to the fans, and it’s unfair to the enjoyment of sports.
I’m fully on #TeamSherman now, even though, you know, Peyton Manning is still going to throw for 450 yards against them and win his second Super Bowl.
Information from ESPN and Fox Sports was used in this article.