Guerry Clegg commentary: Richard Sherman draws reaction to the extremes

sports@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Richard Sherman has a reasonable request. He doesn't want anybody to think he is a maniacal villain. That's understandable. Most of us would feel the same way. Unless we happen to be running North Korea.

But this is just a suggestion to Sherman. If you don't want to be thought of as a villain, then try not to turn into a raging lunatic when you're interviewed after the game by TV reporter Erin Andrews.

By now, you've had a chance to see Sherman's tirade after Sunday's NFC championship came. Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' supremely talented and equally mouthy cornerback, had just made the key play against San Francisco's Michael Crabtree that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. After antagonizing Crabtree, Sherman received a much-deserved shove in the face. Moments later, Andrews asked him about the exchange, and Sherman went OFF.

It was part Bobby Knight, part Kanye West, and all Richard Sherman. Even Andrews, a veteran reporter, was shocked to the point of being speechless. It was hardly the greatest meltdown in sports history. He didn't throw a chair. He just hurled insults at Crabtree. Yet, it has sparked more impassioned debate than the BCS, Lebron James and A-Rod combined.

The overreactions on both extremes are absurd. Sherman has been called a "thug." Really? Because he runs his mouth? So did Muhammad Ali. That didn't make him a thug. Sherman has earned a reputation as the best cornerback in football because … well, he is. And he likes to talk about it, to the point of being more annoying than a telemarketer. The man is a human Twitter account.

But Sherman doesn't have a reputation as a cheap shot artist. He doesn't have a record of off-the-field misconduct.

So "thug?" Hardly.

He's also been called a moron. How many morons graduate high school top five in their class, then graduate from Stanford?

So he's neither a thug nor a moron.

But neither is he an innocent victim in all of this debate. He trash talks every opponent, every play. Then, when a TV reporter asks him about an incident on the field -- one he instigated, by the way -- he goes off like Earl Weaver after a blown call at the plate.

Then we're supposed to understand that Sherman is passionate, that his emotion is what drives him to be the best, that just moments earlier he was battling fiercely to save his team from what would have been a crushing loss.

Sorry. Can't buy it.

Yes, pro football is a violent game. It ought to come with an M rating for Mature. "Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language."

But Sherman isn't the first player to make a game-winning or game-saving play on a big stage then face a live TV camera moments later. Most are gracious enough to at least stay composed.

Sherman simply lost it. Actually, let's back up. He never should have approached Crabtree to start with. Sherman claims he was trying to congratulate Crabtree on a hard-fought game. At best, it was poor judgment to even approach an opponent. More likely -- and we'll never know for sure -- Sherman's claim seems disingenuous. Obviously the officials didn't see it that way as they flagged Sherman for taunting.

Besides, this wasn't 10 seconds after making the game-saving deflection, which turned into an interception. The Seahawks still had to take three snaps -- kneel-down, timeout, kneel-down, timeout, kneel-down, ball game -- to burn the final 22 seconds.

Sherman was on the sideline. He had time to cool down. Instead, he overheated. Then, rather than tone it down, Sherman tried to justify his little tantrum. Only after two days of heavy criticism did Sherman offer an apology that was remotely sincere.

Sherman tweeted that he didn't want people to judge his character based on his actions in the heat of the moment. Then he needs to change his behavior or accept the criticism.

-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at

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