By Damon Alexander
What made the Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman interview last month so easy to cover, vilify, and cast judgment on is that no one was actually hurt. That made everything fair game. There really were no consequences to stating any outlandish opinion.
The lazy or uniformed fell back to a racial commentary. But break down exactly what was said, when it was said, and the events that led up to it, and you start to see this in a different light altogether — whether you’re Sherman fan or not.
Did you know that Sherman did an interview before the “tirade”? Did you know that a smiling Sherman hugged Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews before their interview started? Did you know that Sherman said “good game” to 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree not once, but twice and offered his hand to Crabtree? Did you know that Crabtree then shoved Sherman in the face after that? Did you know that Sherman and Crabtree had a disagreement at a fundraiser last summer?
Did you know that Sherman is a performer? He is an athlete on a stage like any ballet dancer, figure skater, or actor on Broadway.
Yes, Sherman is a performer. He was just acting.
His “character” is a trash-talking, physical, in-your-face, intimidator. When he steps on the field, between the white lines, he becomes a super hero with a cape and a mask and a persona much different than that of a straight-A student, Stanford graduate. Superman was a much different person than Clark Kent ever could be. The football field is Sherman’s phone booth. And that’s exactly the prism this should be viewed through.
A lot of people feigned concern for the doe-eyed sideline reporter Andrews. Did you know what Andrews had to say about the interview? Here is a comment she shared on “Dan Patrick Show” the day after the famous Sherman interview:
“The people who are shocked by this and upset by this, Dan, how much have you or I wanted a moment like that?” she said. “… He lost his mind. And it was awesome for once!”
Andrew’s shocked look and the abrupt ending to the interview on live TV are explainable. Fox directors shouted in her ear to “dump” the interview for fear that Sherman would start cursing on national TV. According to Andrews, that was why she had that quizzical look on her face. She was trying to make the most of an extremely chaotic (and don’t forget loud situation, another reason Sherman was shouting) event that she instantly knew was a major story.
And it did become huge, partly because of social media. Can you imagine what the Web or Twitter would have been like had they been around when Muhammad Ali was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee? What about “Primetime” Deion Sanders?
And speaking of Sanders, this is the mold Sherman is cast in. He knows that he wants a bigger contract as a defensive back, a TV gig after he’s done playing, and to become a cultural icon. Yes, he’s that smart.
Sanders laid the groundwork for Sherman. And in this hyperbolic, internet fueled, Twitter era of faux outrage, Sherman is sitting back and watching the buzz he created. His net worth is rising like his outstretched left hand deflecting that final pass away from Crabtree.
ESPN reported that Sherman’s agent said before the Super Bowl he was in line to make over $5 million in endorsements in the offseason.
Sorry to all of the faux outraged. The joke was clearly on you.
Damon Alexander is a freelance writer for over 15 years who has written for Rivals.com, Yahoo, and, most recently, The Seattle Times. A manager and consultant at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, he is a graduate of Hofstra University, where he played baseball.
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