After controversy filled season, perspective needed with Sherman

There was a time when the toast of the NFL universe was how many times Peyton Manning said “Omaha” and where John Harbaugh happens to buy his slacks.

Then the conference championship games were played.

Now we’re talking about something more important, yet still also completely over blown: Richard Sherman and his post-game interview following the NFC Championship game.

In case you’re still debating the Phil Robertson issue from December, here’s the interview in question:

In the heat of the moment, after the biggest play of his career in the biggest game of his career, which sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl for the first time since losing to Pittsburgh in SB 40 in 2006, Sherman let off some steam.

It was a moment both in line with how Sherman has acted in the past but completely unexpected. It’s 20 seconds that have had the talking heads doing their thing not just on ESPN, but even MSNBC. I think this exchange between ESPN’s Ed Werder and Tim Cowlishaw on Twitter perfectly reflects the issue at hand:

I might be willing to give you “childish.” But it’s not as if the third-year cornerback, with a communications degree from Stanford (he went for five years) openly complains about playing time, throws tantrums on the sideline, walks injury free to the locker room with 1:20 left in a game  or wrote a book after his rookie season.

He also didn’t embody Tom Brady and berate officials with F-bombs following a controversial loss:

He also isn’t accused of bullying a teammate like Richie Incognito, drunkenly using a racial slur on video like Riley Cooper or anything closely related to the biggest black mark on the league this year not related to concussions:

As Werder noted, the 25-year-old straight out of Compton, Calif., was asked a question. He answered as many players aren’t inclined to, because they don’t want to supply another team with bulletin board material or find themselves in the position Sherman found himself in Monday, having to defend, but not apologizing for himself, 24 hours after helping send his team to the Super Bowl.

Cowlishaw said it was selfish. Sure it was. But there are two weeks before the Super Bowl will be played. That’s plenty of time for Sherman to wax poetically about how great his team is and what it means to them to be playing against the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, the face of the NFL and the least controversial player.

It’s been noted to me that I’m going to approach this from the angle of a journalist. That’s somewhat true. I’ve sat through numerous press conferences as coaches or players toe the party line, saying it’s “all about the team,” they take everything a “game at a time” or how everything that happened in the preceding game was a “blessing from God.”

This gets repetitive and boring real quick and you don’t have to be a journalist to understand that or be frustrated with a player’s seemingly lack of personality.

As someone who was too young to experience the hay day of Deion “Primetime” Sanders, seeing someone who knows they’re great and isn’t afraid to acknowledge it is a welcome departure from the norm.

However, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of arrogance or cockiness. But at least it’s a clearly definable character trait you’ll never see Peyton Manning display. But those 20 seconds on national television will define Sherman for sometime.

But as Sherman said in his own words today over at MMQB, “It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am.”

While many are criticizing Sherman for not acting like a role model for all the children watching in that moment, hopefully they’ll come across some important facts when looking him up.

Last summer Sherman announced he was starting a charity foundation called “Blanket Coverage,” with a goal of using “its resources to ensure that as many children as possible are provided with proper school supplies and adequate clothing.”

In addition to not being one of the more than 40 NFL players arrested over the course of 2013, that covers the responsibility to children angle for me. Speaking of charities, it was at an event held by Larry Fitzgerald last summer where this whole thing between Sherman and Crabtree apparently got its spark from.

Sherman tried to shake the wide receiver’s hand and was greeted with an attempt to start a fight. Sherman vowed to make a play and “embarrass” Crabtree. Three division rivalry games later it came to pass.

This incident wasn’t a result of Sherman being immature, a “thug” or his lack of “class.” It was a result of the most intense rivalry in the NFL today and Sherman not adhering to status quo of how we expect athletes act when the a microphone is present.

But to put it simply, it was good old fashioned trash talking.

Or if one were to read this commercial’s premiere online Sunday a certain way, I’m completely wrong and this entire incident was a marketing gimmick to sell head phones.

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About Daniel McFadin

Writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
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