An Open Letter to Richard Sherman
First of all, congratulations on all of your success and having a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as an NFL Champion. You work hard, you play hard, you talk smack, and you back it up on the field. You are a great player and your team is having the greatest season in franchise history. A lot of that is contributed to you and your teammates work ethic on and off the field.
You don't know how much it actually hurts me inside to admit all of those things I just wrote. You see, I hate the Seattle Seahawks, Richard. Long before you and the Legion of Boom were a thing. Before Peter snuck out the back door of USC to make his return to the NFL and coach in the PNW. I picked the name and numbers off of my Houshmandzadeh jersey the day he signed with the Hacks because I want no affiliation with that team. I hate the obnoxious and arrogant fans that have come out the woodwork when the franchise is at it's all time high, but weren't there back when it was in it's lows...and there were lots of them. Obviously, you can't group all of the fans into that bandwagon mentality, and the bandwagon is inevitable no matter the location, but I can't stand the fairweather fans and Seattle is notorious for it.
In fact, to visually show you my hatred of the Seahawks, I managed to get a picture with you. I was wearing my normal Sunday game day shirt that goes under whichever Bengals shirt or jersey I wear that day. A picture that I had to sort of trick you in to taking with me. It was the 12th Man Rally, I believe just after your rookie season. Because of the shirt I was wearing, I was kicked off the microphone after half of a verse of "Nuthin' But A G Thang" karoake at The Pub in Kennewick. (For anyone on the Westside of the state reading this, you probably don't know where Kennewick is or even care. The main reason I don't have the 'hometown' love for the city of Seattle. It's the Tri-Cities. South Eastern Washington. That's my hometown.) I still love the fact that I was able to get that pic and all-in-all, it was a fun night and some good ol' fashion ribbing with some friends and the "12th Man" crowd that was there. A MUCH MUCH MUCH smaller crowd compared to this year. No surprise there as the weather is better than fair this year for the Seahawks...but I digress.
The 2014 NFC Championship was one for the books. Incredible plays on both sides of the ball, from both teams. Kaepernick tossing a TD while being a foot off the ground, floating the ball just out of the reach of Earl Thomas. Doug Baldwin managing to get open for a huge 50 yard pass play. Russell Wilson making an incredible throw of his own on 4th and 7 to Jermaine Kearse who maintained focus enough to reel in the TD with defenders all over him. The fact that the Seattle defense made Frank Gore a complete non factor. Vernon Davis is probably still woozy from the Chancellor truck that bulldozed him AGAIN. The San Francisco defense for starting off the game with a huge turnover and taking the "12th Man" out of the game until the second half. There was a ton of great moments that made this game fantastic to watch. Even for someone who was rooting for the team that lost, it was one of the most exciting NFL games I have watched in recent memory.
All this being said, your actions after the game tainted all those great moments. No one is discussing the Kearse catch or the Kap or RW3 throws or even who it was that actually intercepted the pass you tipped to seal the win. It's all about you (and the d-bag on the San Fran sidelines). You know and realized that the way you conducted yourself was wrong and, after talking with your head coach, you apologized for it via Ed Werder.
I was one of those that were quick to judge you as 'classless', just as most of the people who weren't wearing blue and green did. I'm sorry that you had to endure all the racist slurs and (ironic how well timed that Beats by Dre commercial was) 'thug' talk after how you acted and what you said to Erin Andrews in that brief interview. There is absolutely no place for that. It's inexcusable and sad that in 2014 people will still react in that way. As a white kid growing up in a suburb-like town pumped full of government money, I am blessed to not have to deal with that myself. I will also never truly know how it feels or understand what is like to be discriminated against in that way. It is sad that it came to that and it is just something else that tainted an absolutely great game and a great play from an outstanding athlete.
I'll go back to my assessment of you as classless. After having time to think about your comments and actions, along with reading blogs and hearing analysts discuss this topic, I will say that I used the wrong word. Classless isn't it, that's too harsh. It was unprofessional. I'm not saying what you said was incorrect, but how you went about it was completely wrong.
I didn't play sports after high school outside of weekend warrior type stuff, but everyone who has ever played an organized sport of any kind in their life was taught sportsmanship and respect for your opponent. I'm not saying you had to shake the any of the 49ers players hands and/or give them praise, ...and lets be honest, you deserved the hand to your facemask after chasing down Crabtree and giving him a slap on the ass. Especially considering you said yourself the week leading up to the game that there you "don't know if there are going to be handshakes after this one." Crabtree felt the cheek slap, turned around and saw you there. Of course his first reaction was going to be get outta my face. That kinda stuff...It is what it is. It's Richard Sherman. It's one of the things that makes you the great player that you are. Chirp, chip, smack talk, and getting into a player's head to disrupt THEIR game. But you proved it with your play, then made yourself look foolish with your post game antics. I imagine emotions were running at an all time high when that mic and camera were shoved in your face, but the way you acted was down right wrong. Young athletes and kids should follow your example of how to work hard and make something out of yourself even when you may not have the best life opportunities, but no one should follow or encourage what happened after your big play. You don't have to be a role model, but you are whether you like it or not.
There is a time and place for everything. What you said to Skip Bayless on FirstTake was one of my all time favorite ESPN moments. All that guy does is criticize and I fully backed and loved what you said to him. Kudos for that. I still think he really just says things to make for "good" TV and argue with who ever is sitting across from him, but what you said to him was spot on. You are better at life than lots of people, myself included. I'm not a professional athlete, I do not making millions of dollars, I didn't graduate with a Bachelor's degree from a highly respected University, but I do have young people in my life that look up to me. A couple of those witnessed what you did after the game. I am glad that they were able to see that what you did in that now classic post game interview was not acceptable. No one is perfect and a lot of times we look back and wish we acted differently or said things differently. I am surprised at how many fans/bloggers/analysts are completely OK and want to try and justify that scenario. It was unnecessary, arrogant, and completely unprofessional. You realized that, after cooler heads prevailed, and did the professional thing by issuing an apology.
Also, your write up in MMQB was well said...even though you were quick to take another jab at the refs. (C'mon man, complaining about the refs?! You are above that. Leave that to, as your fan base LOVES to call them, the forty whiners) Good on you for also sticking up for Bowman and the morons who threw/dropped food on him as he was being carted off.
Anyway, congratulations again on your success. You deserve all of it after working harder at a craft than most people can even imagine. You also deserve the scrutiny that came following your post game actions. I thank you for it, though. On one hand, it was refreshing to see and hear a player truly speaking his mind in an interview without worrying about hurting someone's feelings. It also showed us all how we shouldn't act when we are overly emotional and fired up in ANY situation. There is a lot to take away from this - Both for you, your fellow professional athletes, and really anyone who witnessed what happened.
Good luck in New Jersey in a few weeks, and the best birthday (February 3rd) present I could ever ask for would be for Peyton Manning to absolutely tear your Legion of Boom apart with those 'ducks' that he throws. Followed by a post game interview where he gives you and the rest of the Seahawks the credit that you have worked hard enough to deserve.
Still, my mantra will continue - "Who Dey, all day, every day! GO BENGALS AND (INSERT TEAM PLAYING THE SEAHAWKS THAT WEEK)!"
Seattle Seahack fans that are reading this, since most of you just simply share lame little memes on social media that usually have nothing to do with the actual game itself, this will mostly sum up my feelings: