Sherman: Far Beyond Sports
Situation Becomes Referendum on Media, Sociology
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman shakes hands with eight-year-old Nick Finley, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 at Mill Creek Sports in Mill Creek, Wash. Finley, had surgery earlier in the day, but was still able to meet Sherman. (AP Photo/The Herald, Genna Martin) MANDATORY CREDIT
Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman wears a biblical verse on a chain around his neck as he speaks at an NFL football news conference Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Renton, Wash. The verse is Philippians 4:13, reading "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The Seahawks play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Renton, Wash. — His voice calmer, and answers more lengthy, Richard Sherman held a layered news conference Wednesday.
It was the first time Sherman met with a group of reporters since the chaos following his postgame television appearance after the NFC Championship game.
The massive reaction to Sherman yelling that he is the best cornerback in football and that San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree was a “sorry” receiver during a live on-field interview just after the game ended surprised Sherman.
The incident and subsequent fervor is the first rocket of notoriety sent up during the run-up to the Super Bowl.
The situation also, in many ways, has evolved into a referendum on sports media, sociology and football.
It seemed every sports outlet in the country had an opinion piece on Sherman within the 48-72 hours following the game. The topic morphed from the sports world to web, television and radio outlets that don’t often deal with sports.
Fox News and CNN cut live to Sherman’s Wednesday news conference. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s news conference, which preceded Sherman’s, included multiple questions about Sherman.
“If I would have known it was going to blow up like that, I probably would have approached it differently,” Sherman said. “Just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates’ great games. So many people played so many great games that you would think the stories would be about them. So that’s the only thing I feel kind of regretful about.”
Sherman received a litany of racist comments via social media sites. People who had never met him were explaining who he is or is not. The blowback was widespread.
One of the most surprising aspects to Sherman — who apologized for his comments Monday — was the tenor and amount of reaction to him doing something related to football.
“It was kind of profound people’s opinions and things of that nature because I was on the football field showing passion,” Sherman said. “Maybe it was misdirected, maybe it was a little immature, things could have been worded better. But this is on the football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes, doing anything illegal, I was showing passion after a football game.
“I didn’t have time to sit there and contemplate what I’m going to say, but people behind computer screens typing have all the time in the world to contemplate everything they are going to say and articulate it the exact way they want to. Some of it I’m sure they were pretty embarrassed about.”
The negative reaction to Sherman prompted the positive reactions. His parents ended up defending him in the news. Hank Aaron tweeted his support for Sherman. Everyone from entertainers to news anchors had something to say.
Some called Sherman a “thug.” That term is a hot-button topic for the native of Compton, Calif.
“It seems like the acceptable word for the ‘N’ word. Everybody else says the ‘N’ word and someone says ‘thug’ and they go, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ That’s where it kind of takes me back and is kind of disappointing. What is the definition of a thug? Really?
“I know some thugs; they know I’m the furthest thing from a thug. I have fought that my whole life, just coming from where I come from. You hear Compton, you think he’s a thug and this and that and the other. Then you hear Stanford and you’re like, ‘That doesn’t even make sense. That’s an oxymoron.’ You fight it for so long. Then to have it come back up again, it’s frustrating.”
The Seahawks find themselves in a rare circumstance for a Seattle team by being painted as the villains when it comes to the Super Bowl. It’s a concept Sherman found comical and unfair. He first laughed while questioning how any team with Russell Wilson at quarterback could be considered villains. He also said passing judgment on him based off the television interview is short-sighted.
“People say the old cliche — don’t judge a book by its cover — but they are judging me by my cover. They don’t judge me how I am on the football field, during the game, after the game, and they are not judging me about who I am.
“Now if I had been arrested 10 times, or committed all these crimes or suspended for fighting off the field, I am going to accept being a villain, but I’ve done nothing villainous.”
The week prior to the NFC title game Sherman said that his personality and New York City were a “match made in heaven.” He’ll head toward Media Day this week in Newark, N.J., as the top focus among all the Seahawks. Just not for the reasons he’d prefer.