He’s a friend, a young, Black sportswriter whose media profile grows because of how insightful he is. He has the right pedigree, too; he’s a Northwestern grad. But more than anything else, he’s learned how to spot hypocrisy better than others in the biz with 25 years more experience.
And there were hypocrites everywhere Sunday night after Richard Sherman, the brash-but-talented defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks, stared into a TV camera and told Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews (and the rest of the football world) what he thought of Michael Crabtree, a receiver for the San Francisco 49ers that Sherman had shut down.
“Well, 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 going to get. Don't you ever talk about me or I’ll shut it for you real quick.”
In what the hypocrites called a “rant,” Sherman’s comments went viral on Twitter and other social media. Fans were abuzz over it, so were those in the journalism community. Those men and women in media seemed to want from Sherman the kind of pastel answers that often pass for colorful.
He didn’t deliver what they consider to be the usual post-game comments.
His remarks were vivid. Not because they represented a consensus, but because they were so honest, so revealing, so unexpected. He refused to play the gracious victor. Richard Sherman played Richard Sherman, not Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, and isn’t that what sports media should want?
The answer is no, which brings me back to my talented friend. He denounced the media’s criticism of Sherman.
“Stunned to see so many print journalists on Twitter, Facebook, etc. so put off by Richard Sherman's postgame interview,” my friend posted on his Facebook page late Sunday night. “Those are the responses we live for. Far too often we get the canned ‘It was a great game, we planned to shut down Michael Crabtree and we did that’ type of answers to a question. So when a guy, excited to go to the Super Bowl, still high on the adrenaline of a key play, wants to speak his mind on national TV like that ... you applaud him.”
Those of us in the media often say we live for moments like the one Sherman gave us. His on-field interview was a from-the-gut moment that makes sports journalists (and fans alike) talk about and loathe Mike Tyson or Ric Flair or Terrell Owens or Floyd Mayweather Jr., public personalities who cornered the market on being villains. But villains make for splendid stories.
The media can see those villains in the smack-talkin’ Sherman.
For in a world of vanilla, he gave the sports world Rocky Road fudge. His flavor isn’t to every man’s taste. But sports media should, as my young friend puts it, welcome the fact that Sherman made more fascinating theater than most every professional athlete who stands in front of a TV camera and tells us absolutely nothing.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh
(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)