This post is the second of a multi-part series (click here for the prologue) on Richard Sherman and the discussion surrounding his actions after the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers:
After Richard Sherman saved the day for the Seattle Seahawks by causing an interception in the end zone of the NFC Championship Game, he ran over to a dejected Michael Crabtree, slapped his conquered peer on the hindquarters, said something whose tone will forever remain between the two rivals, extended his hand for a dishonorable handshake, was shoved in the helmet by the defeated wide receiver, and then mimed a chokehold to his rival’s young quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose hopes and dreams Sherman had not only shattered but was now openly mocking in front of millions.
All of these things he did before exploding in front of Erin Andrews in a live television interview. All of these things he did before restating verbally and in writing (even hours later in a defense of his actions) his beliefs that Crabtree is both “sorry” and “mediocre” and that Kaepernick is indeed a foolish quarterback at best.
If Richard Sherman were a gladiator, he would have carved out his enemy’s heart and eaten it as it beat for the last time within the confines of his grip. Then, to prove his actions were not abnormal, he would have written a defense of his actions in the blood of the vanquished and mailed it to the deceased’s offspring. Afterwards, those who had witnessed the violence in the Coliseum or heard of Sherman’s antics outside the theatre of violence would have yelled in classic, derisive fashion: “Heretic!” “Messiah!” “Thug!” “Role model!” And, if Twitter were invented, half of Rome might even have tweeted, #Nigger, while the other half tweeted, #Charitableyoungmanwithabrightfuture.
The mixed reaction to Sherman’s actions and words is important because it reveals how so much of what happened, if anything did happen, was lost not because of what Sherman did, but because of how other individuals--nowhere within the vicinity of the field, the stadium, the city limits of Seattle, or even the Puget Sound--reacted.
Moreover, most of this reaction and its near nuclear fervor was in response to Richard Sherman’s passionate interview with Erin Andrews and made little mention of his end zone exchange with Crabtree nor the choke sign he aimed at Kaepernick. While I found his interview with Andrews to be somewhat questionable in taste and decorum, I did not find it appalling--I believed human civilization would continue. After all, the WWE, the WWF, and the WCW have all put together such contrived interviews before and their violent barnstorming has failed to sack what’s left of the American Rome, so why would Sherman’s barbaric contrivances be any different?
I cannot deny that Richard Sherman’s on field antics do bother me. However, what bothered me most was Sherman’s actions and not his words, directed at two 49ers’ players directly after the biggest play of his career. And while his on field communication skills with Crabtree and Kaepernick have become a part of the Sherman Discourse, I am still wondering if not for his interview, would there even be a Sherman Discourse. I think we all know the answer is, no, there wouldn’t be.
Furthermore, I would like to draw a line between Sherman’s immediate responses to his on field competitors and his interview with Erin Andrews. I do not think his actions and his words were wrought by the same mechanisms. I believe his actions towards Crabtree in the end zone and towards Kaepernick in the red zone were driven by impulse, adrenaline, instinct, and what have you. And while his interview rode a cresting wave of adrenaline, I believe it appeared to be as much about a contrived caricature as being caught in the moment.
|Sherman pushing Crabtree's buttons.|
I believe this moment was contrived not in the sense that Sherman practiced it before a mirror, yelling at his own reflection, although it would not surprise me if he had, but in the sense that he knew he had just been shoved in the helmet by Crabtree on national television and on national television had been seen not to retaliate. Sherman, by his own admission, is not out to fight anyone. He is, after all, too smart for that, and instead, he retaliated to Crabtree’s own lack of sportsmanship not with fisticuffs but by emasculating the man in an interview, which, strangely, was the one locale other than the game’s final play where Crabtree was the least in control of his own fate and therefore, defenseless. Richard Sherman may have been angry and he may have been pumped full with adrenaline, a la Bane in a Batman script, but he was still very much conscious of the role he was choosing to play.
In fact, if we are to believe in the mythos Richard Sherman has created around himself, it is that he can push other people’s buttons without pushing his own, that as the intensity of the game increases he can partake in the physical barbarism of the game while dominating its cerebral aspects as well. In other words, Richard Sherman wants us to perceive him to be an elite organism--a mutant per say--while those he plays against are mediocre humans. In this vein, I believe Richard Sherman, while full of seething anger towards Crabtree for still not acknowledging Sherman’s superiority despite glaring evidence to the claim--was well aware that in his interview with Erin Andrews he was playing the role of the wrestling ham. However, what he didn’t know was that America does not love all willing villains equally. In other words, he became a cause that lost control of its effect, which in many ways added another hyphen to his personality: the villainous-victim.
PARTS TWO AND THREE SHOULD BE UP BY
SATURDAY SOMETIME SOON.
Bryan Harvey can be followed @LawnChairBoys.
Bryan Harvey can be followed @LawnChairBoys.