The two players who have drawn the most attention from last weekend’s NFL League Championship Games are Peyton Manning, who passed for 400 yards in helping the Broncos beat New England, and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, whose post-game interview with Fox reporter Erin Andrews, has gone viral on the internet. “I’m the best corner in the game,” Sherman said. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”
That comment along with Sherman’s animated actions has drawn tremendous criticism on Twitter and other social media sites. Sherman said he doesn’t mind the criticism, but he is very concerned about being called a thug. “The reason it bothers me is it seems it’s the accepted way now to call someone the “n” word. They say thug and it takes me aback. I know some real thugs and they know I’m the farthest thing from a thug.”
To understand Richard Sherman you must know where he came from. He grew up in the Compton neighborhood in Los Angeles; a really tough place to grow up. His amazing athletic ability helped him get a scholarship to Stanford, and in the last three years he has emerged as the games’ top cover corner. In three seasons he has twenty interceptions, five more than anybody else in the NFL. When he says he’s the best, he speaks the truth.
Some media pundits have labeled the Super Bowl match-up between Seattle and Denver as the “Villains versus the Virtuous.” Sherman however, doesn’t agree. “That’s hilarious,” Sherman said. “Anytime you label Russell Wilson a villain, it’s a joke. It’s funny.”
Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback came to his teammate’s defense. “Richard is an unbelievable football player. I have tons of respect for him. He plays the game of football with tons of passion and tons of fire. He is one of the most intelligent people you will ever meet. He’s one of my good friends and I love him to death.”
Other nationally known sports figures have also come out in support of Sherman, including Braves’ Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. “There were countless individuals and Hank Aaron was one of them,” Sherman said. “A lot of people reached out with support and I appreciate all of it, people who really know who you are and what you stand for. They are not as quick to judge.”
One of Richard Sherman’s heroes is boxing champ Muhammad Ali and if you saw his interview with Erin Andrews, you likely saw a lot of Ali in him. Remember the interview Ali gave after beating Sonny Liston in 1964 for the heavyweight title? “I must be the greatest thing that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face and I just upset Sonny Liston and I just turned 22 years old. I must be the greatest of all-time.” Those comments came just a few minutes after Ali finished off Liston in the seventh round, just like Sherman’s comments came a few moments after his pass deflection in the end zone saved the Seahawks victory.
Like boxing, football is a game of passion. If you don’t have it, you can’t play the sport. Muhammad Ali had it, and so does Richard Sherman. When you corner a passionate player just moments after a battle is won, you’re generally going to get a strange, sometimes controversial answer to any question you ask.
Some call it egotistical, others call it bragging. Whatever it is it made for interesting conversation all week long. As my granddaddy always said, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” Richard Sherman certainly can.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson, TN. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org