Faceoff: Richard Sherman’s impact on the NFL’s reputation

Jamie Levine Richard Sherman is a very good football player. I will be the first person to say that. His game-winning tip that led to an interception at the end of the NFC Championship game was astounding and should be remembered for sending the Seattle Seahawks to the team’s second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Nonetheless, being an extremely talented player does not give him the right to go around acting like a buffoon. I’m not just talking about the postgame interview with Erin Andrews, either.

Immediately after the interception, Sherman made the choke symbol in the direction of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick – a gesture he was later fined for.

That is not the behavior of a Pro Bowl-caliber athlete. He should go out onto the field and let his play speak for itself.

Before last year’s Super Bowl, Sherman was out on the streets of New Orleans interviewing pedestrians about their opinions of Darrelle Revis compared to him. He had only been in the league for two seasons, and he was already trying to validate himself to people on the street. A player of his ability should not be concerned with what the public thinks. He should focus his attention on being prepared to play his best every Sunday.

In March 2013, in an appearance on the ESPN show “First Take,” he got into an argument with Skip Bayless – whom I acknowledge is not the most sympathetic character – over who had “won” at life between the two. Where he stood as the best cornerback in the league and his style of play were never discussed. Sherman decided to use this opportunity to settle personal scores rather than debate anything of real substance.

Sherman’s behavior in his limited time in the league has done nothing but demonstrate that he has a severe lack of maturity. A player’s behavior represents not only himself but also the entire league, and Sherman has done nothing to convince me that he is concerned with the image of his employer, the NFL.

Kevin Frankel

America’s relationship with professional athletes is a muddled and confusing one. We demand that they sacrifice their health and well-being for our amusement week after week, and we pay them handsomely to do so. But the slightest display of passion by these adrenaline-fueled behemoths can provoke the ugliest vitriol our country has to offer.

Moments after his tip to teammate Malcolm Smith sent the Seattle Seahawks to their second Super Bowl in franchise history, Richard Sherman proudly declared himself to be “the best corner in the game.”

What followed was a fervent postgame interview in which Sherman called out San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree for disrespecting him throughout the game. His remarks drew criticism for being overly boisterous, while media commentators referred to him as a “thug” 625 times the subsequent day according to iQ Media.

And how convenient that “thug” was the word of choice to describe Sherman, an African-American. Never mind that the cornerback was salutatorian of his high school and graduated from Stanford University with a 3.7 GPA. Sadly, in 2014, Americans are still inclined to judge people not by the content of their character but by the color of their skin.

Sherman himself said it best: “The reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s an accepted way of calling somebody the N word now.”

Coded language dominates our national conversation about race. Black public figures are expected to be “soft-spoken” and get lambasted for any perceived outspokenness. Kanye West gets called arrogant for referring to himself as a genius, but what would you call a man who owns 21 Grammys, directed a film screened at Cannes Film Festival and designed some of the most sought-after clothing of recent memory? White America clearly cannot stomach hearing a black man talk plainly about his accomplishments.

Even without the racial component, this “controversy” is hugely overblown. He was not speaking at a postgame press conference. Rather, Sherman was seconds removed from the biggest moment of his career. You will have to forgive him if he was a little fired up.

You cannot demand humility and graciousness from the same people that are putting their bodies on the line for your entertainment. Sherman is an explosive player on the field; that is what makes him among the best in the league.

If anything, Sherman’s comments will only push him to play with more intensity in the Super Bowl so that he might back up his claims. If you ask me, that would be an ideal outcome for everyone.u