“Fat and slow?”
Cornerback Richard Sherman says those words 1 minute into his Bleacher/Report video report from Bourbon Street. Sherman is not angry. A little incredulous, but mostly amused as he’s just been told by a fan wearing a 49ers hat — someone who didn’t know he was in fact talking to Sherman — that he was too fat and slow compared to the Jets’ Darrelle Revis.
It’s Sherman’s refusal to take it personally, that playfulness, that shows a side of Sherman’s personality that people across the country have missed in Sherman’s rise. Oh, people know his name now. There’s no doubt about that. But the fifth-round pick from Stanford has been cast as a bit of a polarizing figure after the photo he Tweeted taunting Brady or changing his Twitter name to Optimus Prime.
By the time the playoffs rolled around, he had developed what I would consider a persona and what others considered a reputation. There was a pretty transparent attempt to bait Sherman into a provocative quote before the playoff game against Washington by a reporter from a publication I won’t name because I don’t want to call out USA Today. The result is that some people described him as cocky, one reporter from the aforementioned USA Today going so far as inferring that Sherman was to blame for being struck in the face — without his helmet — by Washington’s Trent Williams after the playoff game.
What the story fails to mention is that prior to being punched, Sherman was congratulating Washington’s Kedric Golston on his effort in the game, saying “Way to work.” Why is that significant? Golston was the one quoted in the aforementioned USA Today calling Sherman a “cheater” before the game.
What was missing from those characterizations was an understanding of the fact that even Sherman doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s really not mean-spirited, he likes to laugh and I think the video from Bourbon Street shows that. He doesn’t get mad when people mentioned the positive drug test or mock his appeal. In fact, he assures the 49ers fan that it’s OK.
Sherman sees all this as part of the game. He really does. Is he outspoken? Absolutely. Is he confident? There is no doubt. This is a guy who said his rookie year that he was playing at the level of a first-round pick. And he talks on the field. A lot.
But he is not some aloof, arrogant athlete. He enjoys interacting with people, and to ignore that part of his personality is to miss a complete picture of Sherman, which is why the video from Bourbon Street is so very telling. It gives you a glimpse of that playful side of his personality.