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Talking about Richard Sherman by not Talking about Richard Sherman: A Prologue of Diverse Talent

January 23, 2014


This post is the first of a multi-part series on Richard Sherman and the discussion surrounding his actions after the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers:


Without knowing him, the only safe generalizations to be made about Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, are that he is both talented and complex. He is not only a football player but an elite football player. However, his high school resume also boasts that Sherman's singular abilities on the football field are rivaled only by his accomplishments in the classroom. He was, after all, Salutatorian of his graduating class at Dominguez High School.


And it is this dual nature of his abilities--intellectual as well as physical--that make him a prototype for the hyphenated identity of student-athlete; the identity so often bestowed with great embellishment on the select attendees of such prestiged institutions as the University of Stanford, the University of Notre Dame, Duke University, and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. And of these noble institutions, Richard Sherman attended the former, and, as he had in high school, Sherman continued to achieve both on the field and in the classroom. 

In his last year of NCAA eligibility, he was already working towards a Masters degree in Communications, living and thinking beyond the conventions of any mere football player. And all of this--the Stanford grad student turned NFL All-Pro--speaks to the complexity of Richard Sherman, and yet, in the eyes of the public, through all the infinite nerve endings of satellites and fiber optics, he is, as so many are, often reduced by technology, by social history, by social media, by a jersey and pads into nothing more than an athlete, or more precisely an African-American athlete. Hyphens abound! Except for the fact that Richard Sherman is always more than an athlete, more than than a student, more than an African-American, and therefore, as a result of his mutant, or hybrid, identities, his words that followed his actions and his actions that preceded his words after last Sunday’s NFC Championship game deserve a more complex response than what they received. His actions and words and the identities they signify deserved more than the dichotomy that attacked him as a thug and defended him as a role model.  He may very well turn out to be those things, but he is never only those things.

Click here for Part One (which is really the second part).

Bryan Harvey can be followed @LawnChairBoys.

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