Richard Sherman Entitled to Free Speech Like Phil Robertson
For the second time in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. Instead of dissecting potential match-ups against the Denver Broncos however, the big story immediately following the game focused on some comments from one of Seattle's best players.
With his team clinging to a six-point lead late in the contest, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman came up with a huge play. The all-world cover man tipped a Colin Kaepernick end zone pass into the hands of Seahawks teammate Malcolm Smith. The interception would seal the deal and punch Seattle's ticket to the Meadowlands.
After the game Sherman had a lot to say about the play, especially the intended receiver, San Francisco's Michael Crabtree.
"Well I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman yelled at FOX reporter Erin Andrews. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me." Andrews asked Sherman who was talking about him, and Sherman hollered "Crabtree!"
Sherman and Crabtree had a war of words throughout the week leading up to the NFC Championship game. Sherman continued his rant on the 49ers wide out after the initial comments to Andrews, referring to Crabtree as "mediocre" to ESPN's Ed Werder. He then repeatedly called Crabtree "mediocre" at the postgame press conference.
Obviously Sherman and Crabtree have some friction between them. Their respective teams aren't exactly bosom buddies either. The rivalry is enhanced because of this. Yet, after Sherman's explosive commentary, I was disappointed to see the reaction of so many fans on social media.
Many of the same people who defended Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after he was blasted by the media and suspended by A&E for simply expressing his religious beliefs were expressing disappointment in Sherman's words.
They called his comments "unsportsmanlike" and "classless." They called him a "jerk".
One post read, "Sherman is the worst possible representation of the Seahawks". Really?
Calm down, folks.
You'd think the man spiked a baby after the victory. He's talking trash against an opponent. It happens all the time. Do you not see the obvious smirk on his face while he's doing it? It's a show. He's entertaining. He's also playing the heel. Purposely.
Sherman's antics are great for his team. While everyone is talking about his words, he's taking pressure off of his teammates. Sherman relishes the attention and he knows he can handle it.
We have a little thing called free speech in this country. Sure, it may seem like we're losing it when guys like Phil Robertson are wrongly punished for merely expressing an opinion. But Americans won't stand for the word police trying to take our freedoms away. When Robertson was out of a job, We the People rose up. A&E listened and reinstated TV's favorite patriarch. Richard Sherman has the same right to speak his mind.
Incidentally, what did he say so bad? He expressed his thoughts on his status as far as corners go ("the best") and his take on Crabtree's talent ("mediocre"). Is that so awful? Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, two revered, legendary American athletes were trash talkers extraordinaire. Why target Sherman? They said a lot worse.
Cornerback is one of the toughest positions to play in all of sports. Generally, corners are under six feet tall, can't catch as well as receivers, and have no idea which way the receiver they are covering will go. Meantime, that receiver is usually well over six foot, with great hands, and knows exactly where he's headed. Not to mention every rule change continues to go against defensive players. With the deck stacked against them, the top corners often play with a chip on their shoulder. Braggadocio and mental maneuvers may enter the equation. They have to make up for the advantages the offense possesses.
Deion Sanders never held in an opinion. Johnny Sample certainly wasn't shy. Lester Hayes made a career out of getting into the heads of his opponents. So many great defensive backs had mind games in their bag of tricks to go along with smarts and speed.
Richard Sherman made a tremendous play to clinch the NFC Championship game for the Seahawks. Seattle is heading to the Super Bowl and he is one of the major reasons why. He plays at the level he does because he is allowed to be himself, and yes that includes his cockiness and colorful commentary.
Let's not be hypocrites. Phil Robertson deserved our backing when he was wrongfully called out. Chick-fil-A deserved our patronage when they were treated unfairly. Now, at the very least Richard Sherman deserves our acknowledgement that he can say whatever he wants. It's up to him to try to back it up on the field.
If you don't want to hear Sherman then throw a better ball and beat him. Otherwise he will come out on top again, and he'll be sure to let you know all about it.