By now, you have undoubtedly heard and read every possible opinion from every person you care to ask about the trash talk dealt out by Sherman at the end of the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Many current and former players from many different sports have come out and stated their opinions on Sherman’s antics. Warriors forward, Andre Iguodala said, “We just got set back 500 years…” Hammerin’ Hank Aaron came out in support of Sherman saying, “hang in there & keep playing as well as you did Sunday. Excellent job – you have my support.”
There will be discussions about this for months, if not years, to come. Every time the 49ers and Seahawks get geared up to play each other, FOX, ESPN, and their ilk will replay the interview Sherman gave to Erin Andrews mere moments after the game winning interception – a ball that was tipped away from Michael Crabtree and toward Sherman’s teammate, linebacker Malcolm Smith. Sherman was direct and to the point in the interview, stating, “I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the result you gonna get.”
Let me be transparent. I have been a fan of the 49ers since before I can remember. I have sat down and watched some of the most amazing, uplifting, wonderful games in the history of the NFL. I watched Steve Young throw for six touchdowns in Miami against the Chargers. I watched Terrell Owens cry on the sideline after catching a perfectly placed ball by Steve Young to split Pat Terrell and Darren Sharper. I watched Joe Montana lead the 49ers on a 92-yard drive against the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl.
I’ve also watched the 49ers go 2-14. I watched every game of Dennis Erickson’s era. Mike Nolan’s era. Mike Singletary’s era. I saw my childhood heroes play for the Kansas City Chiefs (Joe Montana) and the Oakland Raiders (Jerry Rice) and have success in other uniforms. I watched the 49ers miss on draft pick after draft pick and acted like Tai Streets and Arnaz Battle weren’t all that bad. I was the biggest Alex Smith supporter this side of anywhere. I’ve defended the 49ers through thick and thin because that’s what a fan does. That’s what is expected of an ardent supporter of a team. I am not asking you to applaud me for doing what is expected of a fan, I am simply explaining myself before I continue.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “why did he tell me all this?”
I made it clear where my loyalties lie because I don’t have a problem with what Richard Sherman did or said, nor do I have a problem with the way he went about saying it. Do I think he is correct in saying that Michael Crabtree is sorry? No. Mediocre? Absolutely not.
The thing is, Sherman was asked how he felt about a play that sent his team to the Super Bowl directly after the play was made. He didn’t go find a camera to talk into and spout off at the mouth. Erin Andrews asked him a question and he gave an honest, unscripted answer. I love that about Sherman. He is an eloquent, intelligent, caring individual…but in that moment, we got a chance to see the human side of an elite level athlete after making the biggest play in his young career. That play may be the biggest play in the history of the Seahawks organization. That play meant more to that city than anything else has in recent memory.
I love seeing that there was no script. I want more athletes to be transparent and say what they feel needs to be said. I could sit back and write a script for 98% of the players in the NFL because they all sound exactly the same. “We played a great team, but they played just a little bit better than we did. We will go back to the drawing board and try to get a little bit better every day. That’s the goal; to get a little bit better each time we practice or play. We just weren’t able to execute, so we will take a look at where we missed and try to be better the next time.” Sound familiar?
The fact that Sherman was able to make that play speaks volumes about him as an athlete. He timed his jump perfectly, peaked at just the right moment, tipped the ball perfectly to his teammate (not the first time he has played tip drill in an NFL game), and was completely candid and honest in his answer to a question.
All the offseason controversy between he and Crabtree aside, he made an incredible play that devastated one team, their fan base, and their city and sent another into a glory filled, euphoric experience. His postgame antics of patting Crabtree on the butt, circling him, and sticking his hand out for a questionable handshake after that play may have been a little overboard, but that is who he is; unapologetically.
Sherman didn’t start playing cornerback until his senior season at Stanford and wasn’t seen as a game changing defensive back. Every team passed on Sherman in the NFL draft at least four times. He isn’t the first player to use the draft day snub as motivation. Tom Brady has a special (The Brady 6) talking about the six quarterbacks that were taken ahead of him in the draft. Aaron Rodgers has talked at length about how he wants the 23 teams who passed on him in the 2005 NFL draft to remember that. Sherman was a fifth round pick and doesn’t want anyone to forget about that. He is out to make people recognize how great he is and to show everyone what they missed out on when they skipped over him for players at his same position like Prince Amukamara, Ras-I Dowling, and Chris Culliver.
Sherman may be the best corner in the game, he may be one of the best trash talkers in the game, and he may be one of the smartest, hardest working corners in the game, but he did not invent trash talking. He was not the first to do it; he will certainly not be the last.
He does endless amounts of charity work, takes his job very seriously, and openly admits that he is not the most athletic cornerback in the NFL, so by studying tape of his opponents, he can be more well prepared than anyone else. He is arguably the best fade route defender in all of football and proved that on Sunday night in Seattle.
The main negative that came from his trash talking ways from a football perspective is that he took the glory in that moment for himself and away from the team as a whole. In an interview on Monday he said he wished that hadn’t happened because several teammates had great games and went on to list them and some of their stats. This will be a learning lesson for Sherman, and that’s ok, he’s only 25 years old.
If you were being honest with yourself, you would have to say that you would love to have a guy like Sherman on your team. Talented, intelligent, giving, and able to back up all trash he talks every week by making game changing plays and helping his team get to the ultimate goal. I know I would.