If you haven’t heard of this story, all you really need to know about it can be found by watching the video. Essentially, Sherman made the game-winning play in the NFC Championship, taunted 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree – who he was covering – on the field and then, following the game, was approached by Erin Andrews, to which he essentially said that Crabtree was a “sorry receiver” for Sherman to cover because Sherman is “the best in the league”. It is the “Richard Sherman Rant” and there have been countless discussions about what it was, how it was handled, if it should have happened and what that means for Sherman.
Immediately following the “rant” there was a group of people calling Sherman a thug. Some argue that he receives this classification because he comes from a lower socio-economic environment, originally growing up in Compton, California and others feel this is all racially based.
There are a lot of different feelings out there for Sherman’s “call-out” at the end of the game, but I feel most are unwarranted. First of all, we need to understand that referring to him as a “thug” for claiming his superiority over his peers is very misguided. Athletes, much less highly talented, successful athletes, must have confidence to succeed. They must feel that they are the best and play as if they are, or they will not be able to achieve to such a level that allows them to play in the professional leagues. Sherman, playing one of the most challenging positions in football, needs to have an element of cockiness about him and an element of swagger. This is the same reason why some don’t like Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel. He plays with that confidence/cockiness that allows him to succeed, but can rub people the wrong way. Many view it as an attitude, or in Sherman’s case, as a sign that he is a “thug”. The fact of the matter is… he is the best and, frankly, has every right to say it because if he didn’t believe it himself, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does out on the football field, which is tremendous in it’s own right.
I know there are great players out there, particularly at cornerback, but you can’t deny how talented Sherman is. He is one of the best in the game and deserves the praise as such whether he is the one who brings it upon himself or not.
And that brings us to the “thug” comment again… It is inappropriate and does seem to stem from something racially based. From everything I have heard or seen about him, he is a great individual who is a nice guy, cares for others and has worked very hard to be where he is now. Yes, he is from Compton, but that alone shouldn’t influence how we view a man who also was a top student at Stanford University with a 3.9 GPA and then was drafted in the fifth-round of the NFL draft, only to ascend to one of, if not the best, cornerbacks in the game today. His story, really, is that of a Hollywood movie. Coming up in a rough neighborhood, working hard enough to achieve academically and athletically, so he could go onto a immensely prestigious university and then follow his passion into his professional career and continue to find success? It sounds like something that we as a society that roots for the underdog would adore. Yet, for some reason, he says he is the best and makes a comment belittling Crabtree, and he is considered a “thug” and someone who “intentionally” brought the focus of the Super Bowl on him?
We need to move past this. The real story here is that our culture views his confidence/arrogance as something associated with a “misguided sense of self” to some extent. Sherman is not a thug. He needs to play with arrogance to excel, yet we, as a culture, have labeled him as being wrong in doing that. Now, I whole-heartedly feel that putting down Crabtree was unwarranted based on what I know. Sherman showed him on the field that he was the best and, I personally believe, he didn’t need to publicly bring up his own dominance as a corner up in that manner by belittling a fellow player, but, nonetheless, that’s a personal preference thing. Some people like to see players, like a Manziel, play and speak with that passion, but others, like myself, would rather we see a gracious winner and gracious loser.
There is no problem with either.
However, the issue here arises when we create this image or understanding of who Sherman is based off a misplaced sense that his arrogance is a sign of a “thug”. He is not a “thug”. He is the best cornerback in the NFL and all he did was say that to the world after he essentially won the game for Seattle. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and assume the worst of Sherman, or call him a “thug” simply because we struggle to handle that aspect of competition that is prevalent in all professional sports in some capacity. Pro athletes need the confidence and the swagger. We, as a society, need to understand that and understand that simply because Sherman shows that “fire” more readily to us as fans, it doesn’t mean that he is somehow wrong or a “thug”. We can’t build our own stories about who Sherman is simply because we see one side of him on the football field.