Surely by now you’ve seen the video
of Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks and his epic post game “rant.”Immediately following a dramatic Sherman
deflected-interception in the end zone to seal the victory and a trip to the
Super Bowl for the Seahawks, Sherman was interviewed by Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews.It will be remembered as the best—or worst postgame interview of all
time.Watching the interview live, my
initial response to the interview was to burst out laughing. Being that
postgame interviews tend to consist of "Uh, I thank baby Jesus and cliché and cliché… Disney World!"
as my friend @jalinton pointed out, I was certainly surprised and caught off
guard by his response.
The Seahawks and
49ers are fierce rivals and both excellent teams, so when San Francisco got the
ball back with just a few minutes on the clock and started marching down the
field, I had the feeling the game was going to end either by a last second
touchdown or by Seattle’s defense making a huge play (perhaps a turnover) to
end the game. Sure enough, a ball tipped up by Sherman and intercepted by
linebacker Malcolm Smith on a throw to the end zone with only seconds on the
clock, clinched the victory.The players
were pumped and the Seattle fans were going crazy—then seemingly everyone was
shocked when Sherman spoke in the interview with the same passion and emotion
with which he plays.
As for Sherman’s
comments themselves, they’re hardly controversial.When asked by Andrews about the play, Sherman
responded by saying, “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me
with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to
get," Sherman shouted when asked by Andrews about the decisive play.
"Don’t you ever talk about me.”When asked who he was talking about, he responded that “Crabtree,"
he responded. "Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’ll shut it
for you real quick. LOB!"
Here’s what you
need to know.Sherman’s statement about
being the best—it’s true.He was voted
to the NFL
All-Pro team, the best of the best. Further, Michael Crabtree, true to
Sherman’s words, isn’t a top 20 NFL wide
receiver. Hall of Fame wide-out Chris Carter doesn’t have him in his
top-10 for 2013, nor does he crack Yahoo
Sports list of top-20 fantasy wide receivers.Crabtree’s response on Twitter
doesn’t hold water either; when a cornerback does his job so well the receiver
he’s covering isn’t open, the QB isn’t going to throw the ball his way and
therefore he won’t have any stats to show.
Trolls on Twitter
and Facebook are reacting as if Sherman is some sort of thug.While his reaction caught me off-guard, I can
respect his passion and I understand it was in the moment. What bothers me is the
entire backlash against Sherman (who has responded to his critics in well-written
article—he regularly writes for Sports Illustrated), is
the way his character and ‘class’ has been questioned.Sherman has been labeled a “thug” and a “bad
role model” because he said something passionate in the heat of the
All this backlash
demonstrates the underlying racism still prevalent in America (fittingly, this
event occurred on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend).White America will accept anyone as long as
they fit the mold of what white America expects.Basically, you don’t have to be white—you just
have to act white.White America is cool
with you, regardless of your skin-color, so long as you live in suburbia with
the white picket fence and wear your khakis and golf polo-shirt. Break those
norms and you’re in for a heap of trouble.
For all this
ranting and raving about Richard Sherman, we’re forgetting the ridiculous
sideline antics of Sherman’s old college coach at Stanford—now 49er’s leader—
and white guy, Jim Harbaugh, who was constantly on camera yesterday for his
endless hand-waving, jumping up and down, and exasperated looks he gave to the
officials (conveniently, ESPN has a list
top 10 fits). Oh, and should you still have a problem with Sherman’s exuberant
confidence, remember the quarterback who threw the pass, Colin Kaepernick, has
a touchdown celebration in which he mimics kissing his own biceps. So lay off white America.
This is important—just
because someone doesn’t act like you
would act or behave like you would behave doesn’t mean they’re wrong or a bad
person—it just means their different. And this shaming for Richard Sherman for not “behaving
appropriately” (behaving as white America expects one to) is basically closet
racism.This MLK day, I’m reminded that
America still has so far to go before people are judged by the content of their
character (however they choose to express it), not by the color of their skin,
or whether they adhere to the cultural expectations of white America.