I'm not a fan of Richard Sherman. After all, he's a superstar Seattle Seahawk in a year when the Seattle Seahawks have been superstars, steamrolling my New Orleans Saints twice in the process. The Hawks have been especially demonstrative swagger-wise in 2013-14, which is the last thing you want to see out of an unstoppable team when that unstoppable team isn't your team.
So when Sherman cranked it up to 12 in his interviews after the Seahawks clinched the NFC Championship last night, I predictably rolled my eyes. After seeing him pat Michael Crabtree's butt and make a choke signal following his role in the game-sealing interception, I was not at all surprised that he went full-on aggro in his post-game celebration.
Sherman’s speechifying mostly annoyed me in the football-hate sense, which falls on me, not him. I’ve always said that the NFL would be boring if all players were stoic and corporate, and Sherman is neither. I can’t fault him for being himself or for feeling like the best, grating though it is to my Saints sensibilities.
No, Sherman’s one legit transgression last night was this:
After winning his feud with Crabtree on the field, he prolonged their beef.
All week long, Sherman and Crabtree had exchanged boasts about who would triumph in their receiver/corner matchup. (UPDATE: Apparently, a tense encounter at a charity event also had something to do with it. And Sherman has penned his side of the story that, though mostly reasoned, continues to trash Crabtree with only the vaguest of background. Two opportunities for Sherman to be a better man, both squandered.) It was close, but Sherman ultimately came out ahead. That’s where such beefs usually end, and should.
But in his immediate postgame interview, Sherman went off, calling Crabtree "a sorry receiver" and later called him "mediocre." That's just being a sore winner. Not cool.
Tempting though it is to chalk this up to immediate post-game euphoria (if you can call it that), Sherman kept up the dissing throughout his media rounds last night. He graduated from Stanford in communications and is pursuing a master’s degree. He’s gone through the media training that all NFL players complete. In other big post-game interviews, he’s kept it together. So not only is he smart, he’s the specific kind of smart that’s supposed to check his worst braggart impulses.
It’s one thing to celebrate a win, and even to revel in your own greatness. Continuing to kick and insult your vanquished competition, however, just makes a guy seem small. And it has a way of pinning a giant target on your back. As Sherman well knows, when you’re the best, boastful and not particularly complimentary of your opponent, everyone’s going to angle for you.
In two weeks, we’ll see how well Sherman backs up his bluster.