Rich-erd Sure-men noun 1. Seattle Seahawks starting DB 2. Stanford Graduate 3. Hardworking 4. Thug 5. Supportable?
This may be late to the party, but now five days later, the proverbial dust has seemed to settle. The play that birthed the response that most likely caused Erin Andrews to hire yet another bodyguard after this incident, has been played, re-played, dissected, analyzed and discussed from just about every possible standpoint, except one. The standpoint of a Falcons fan. So here we go.
We all understand the importance of context. It can help us, as much as it can hurt us. Things we say that are absorbed in context are believable and properly understood. Things we say taken out of context, well those things have the ability to eternally alter our position and perception among other people. That is why it's important to take a moment to establish context not only with Richard Sherman, but his formidable foe, Michael Crabtree.
First, let's dive into Mr. Crabtree. He grew up in the Dallas area, where he played his High School ball with the driven goal of being "The Michael Jordan of Football". He committed to the infamous Mike Leach at Texas Tech. He was later advised by NFL Hall of Famer and Falcon, Deion Sanders as he prepared for the NFL Draft. The 2009 NFL Draft saw him go 10th overall to his current team, the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners team that he held out from until two regular season games into his Rookie season. The same Niners team that he was on when he got hit with a sexual assault charge just before he played our Falcons in the NFC Title Game, just a year ago. All this to say, Crabtree isn't exactly a choir boy, one could say he's a cocktail of diva + talent + drive + bad judgement making for a competitive and fiery mix.
This brings us to our "ant under the magnifying glass", Richard Sherman. Mr. Sherman was born and raised in Compton, a notoriously famous area of LA by hard working, middle-class parents. He played his High School football in the area and became Salutatorian of his graduating class. He parlayed his academics and football prowess into a football scholarship at Stanford, where he played under current Niners coach, Jim Harbaugh and earned a degree in Communications. His career at Stanford was only good enough to get him selected in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Seahawks.
The picture is starting to present itself. Crabtree, a prized and mercurial athlete from a revered area of the country and Sherman, a scrappy and intelligent individual from the "hood" of LA; each drafted by divisional rivals were destined to clash.
Let's go back to context for a moment. It reared its ugly head once more in this clip. Sherman was interviewed by FOX Deportes before he warmly embraced and declared his status as the League's Best Corner to a jaw-dropped Erin Andrews. Sunday's rendezvous wasn't the first time these two went at it on or off the field. Rewind back to April of last year, when these stalwarts got into it at Larry Fitzgerald's softball tournament, of all places and of all people. Sherman
unceremoniously offered a hand shake to Crabtree at the event where he tastefully declined.
This planted the seed. The seed that began to germinate throughout the season. Sprouting leaves during their last regular season matchup at Candlestick. The seed came into full bloom, bearing the delicious fruit that we gobbled up at the end of the NFC Championship late Sunday night.
So what does this have to do with being a Falcons fan? I'll get there very shortly. You maybe thinking to yourself, even if Sherman went to Stanford and was irked about being picked in the fifth round, he was wrong to act like that on National Television. He was wrong to scream and shout like an enraged thug to a polite, young woman. He is crazy. He is wrong.
Or are we wrong? Are we as Falcons fans wrong? Are we as fans who have fierce divisional rivals wrong? Are we as people, who have rivals in our schools, jobs, etc wrong? I believe we are. Is Sherman right? No, that's why he apologized. He may not be right, but a thug he is not.
Don't agree? Absolutely fine. Think Sherman is still a thug? That's your prerogative. Just remember, that our beloved, conservative signal caller Matty Ice had some tasteful words for the Carolina Panthers, after making an astounding play to set up an improbable comeback just last season against a detested divisional opponent. Sound familiar?
Don't always judge a book by it's cover. L.O.B.