By Brian Murphy
© 2014 Idaho Statesman
Moments after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman grabbed all the headlines for his post-game interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews (video above).
I have absolutely no problem with Sherman’s interview. In fact, I liked it. No, loved it.
Instead of another cliche-riddled, praise-the-other-team, I’m-just-happy-to-be-here speech, Sherman spoke his mind. He didn’t curse. He didn’t “threaten” Andrews (as some have postulated). He told the audience what he thought when Andrews asked about Sherman’s deflected pass that led to an interception in the end zone in the final minute of the game. The pass was intended for 49ers’ receiver Michael Crabtree.
“I’m the best corner in the game. 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.”
“Who was talking about you?” Andrews said.
“Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick. L.O.B (Legion of Boom),” Sherman said.
Perfect. It was Sherman. Not some sanitized version of what we want an NFL player to sound like after winning a big game.
Sherman — as explained beautifully in this Sports Illustrated story from July — is not what you think he is, not a “thug” as I saw so many call him on Twitter last night, not “classless,” another derogatory claim making the rounds.
He’s much more complicated.
Born in Compton, Calif., to working-class parents, Sherman was the salutatorian at his high school and chose Stanford over USC. He played receiver, clashed with then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh (now the 49ers’ coach) and moved to cornerback. He encouraged and checked up on former high school teammates to make sure they not only attended college, but graduated.
He talks a lot of trash. It’s part of his game.
After deflecting the pass that was intercepted, he ran up to Crabtree, patted him on the butt and stuck out his hand for a handshake. Crabtree shoved his hands in Sherman’s facemask and pushed him away. No harm, either way. It’s probably not the best time for Sherman to do that.
After Sherman gave the choke sign to the San Francisco bench. He says it was for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who turned the ball over three times in the final quarter. That was not Sherman’s finest moment and no one condones that.
Then came the interview with Andrews. And I’m not sure how anyone had a problem with it, but plenty did — claiming Sherman didn’t have enough class or sportsmanship or any of those nebulous terms that people use when they simply don’t like something.
Sherman had just finished playing in a highly emotional, vicious football game. He’d just made the game-winning play. He gave a highly emotional response. It was real. It was compelling television.
Yes, other players have answered post-game questions without sounding like they just played in a three-hour slugfest. Sherman, himself, gave a much more “composed” interview on the Fox broadcast minutes later.
You know what?
It was terrible television.