There are some jerks in the Richard Sherman story, but he isn’t one of them.
I didn’t think that way when I first saw Richard’s interview immediately after the National Football Conference championship game Sunday evening between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
When I saw the post-game interview, I sort of thought Richard, a cornerback with the Seahawks, was the jerk. It wasn’t so much that Richard bragged a bit about himself, because in today’s sports world it seems as if all professional athletes brag about themselves.
No, what bothered me was that Richard took some shots at San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Richard was covering Michael in the end zone on the final play of the game. On that play, Richard reached up and tipped the ball away from Michael, and it was caught by one of Richard’s teammates to end the game.
It was a classic football moment that Richard later sullied with his post-game interview.
I thought Richard was a jerk for calling out another player after such a great football moment. But then, a couple of days later, I saw another interview with Richard in which he tried to explain why he acted the way he did in that post-game verbal ramble.
The first thing Richard did was admit that he shouldn’t have singled Michael out for attack. He also expressed some regret that his actions might overshadow the work of his teammates. Then he tried to explain why he said what he said. What I liked about that was the fact that Richard didn’t use his explanation as an excuse.
There is a subtle difference between the two. A reason is not an excuse, and I don’t think Richard was trying to make an excuse.
So, now I think Richard Sherman is a pretty good guy. But that doesn’t mean I think what he did in the interview after the game was right. I think it was wrong, and no explanation Richard gives is going to change my mind.
Granted, I’m an old guy, but when I played sports I was taught to lose with dignity and win with class. If you lose a game, you don’t pout, you don’t whine and you don’t complain. You can — and should — be upset about losing, but you save your anger for the locker room. If you win, you don’t brag and you don’t taunt your opponent. You can and should be happy about winning, but you don’t celebrate at the expense of your opponent.
I’ve never understood why anyone would belittle their opponents after beating them in an athletic contest. If anything, you should praise your opponent after a victory. Anything less than that devalues your win. So, after the game, when Richard called Michael a “sorry receiver,” what he was really saying, it seems to me, was, “I got lucky enough to have to cover a receiver who isn’t any good.”
Richard would have been better off to say that Michael “is one of the best receivers in the NFL, and I beat him.”
It’s sort of like the sports fans who taunt an opposing team after it loses by yelling “overrated” at the team. Why would you say that an opponent that your team just beat was overrated? All that does is lessen the importance of your team’s win.
“Yeah, we beat a team that wasn’t that good!”
Even though I don’t like what Richard said in his post-game interview, I still — based on that second interview and other things I’ve read about him — think that he is a pretty good guy.
I can’t, however, say the same about the folks who couldn’t wait to pile on with racist remarks directed at Richard via social media.
So, a young man who just moments after making a play that sends his team to the Super Bowl says some things he now regrets and somehow prompts other people, sitting at their computers with time to think about what they’re saying, to make hateful, racist comments.
What to guess who I think the jerks are here?
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