(Cartoon by Darrin Bell.)
I found the Richard Sherman bruhaha surprisingly interesting, so even though it’s a bit past the due date, I thought I’d post some links.
For those of you who don’t know, Richard Sherman is a football player for the Seattle Seahawks who made a spectacular play at the end of an important game, blocking a pass that would otherwise have been a touchdown for the other team. Partly because of this play, the Seahawks will be playing in the Superbowl this Sunday.
Okay, I don’t especially like football or sports, but that’s pretty darned beautiful. Here it is in animated form:
Sherman gave a brief post-game interview in which he yelled at the camera, and the internet’s head exploded, and much of the yucky brain matter splattering around was ridiculously racist.
After seeing the fuss that it caused, I was surprised when I finally saw the interview itself; Surprised, that is, at how inoffensive Sherman’s comments actually were. Via NPR, here’s a transcript:
Andrews: “The final play, take me through it.”
Sherman: “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Andrews: “Who was talking about you?”
Sherman: “Crabtree!1 Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick! LOB!” (That’s a reference to the Seattle defense’s nickname, “Legion of Boom.”)
The most interesting thing I saw because of this controversy had nothing to do with the controversy itself. It’s this video of Sherman talking about the strategy and tactics that go into being a great cornerback. He argues, convincingly, that what sets him apart from other cornerbacks is not his physical prowess but his understanding of the game and the opposing players.
I also enjoyed this interview with Sherman, in which Sherman shows a level of open contempt for the interviewer (“I’m intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are an ignorant, pompous, egotistical cretin…”) that’s really pretty rare to see.
When you’re a public figure, there are rules. Here’s one: A public personality can be black, talented, or arrogant, but he can’t be any more than two of these traits at a time. It’s why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country’s imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive.
Sarah Blackwood has interesting things to say about the genre-bending aspects of the Sherman interview:
What Sherman said to the reporter after the game would not have been out of place on the field. But it was out of place in the post-game interview, which has a very specific structure—a pandering, breathless, thankful, selflessness in the service of banal clichés. These clichés attempt to defuse the physical violence that has just taken place on the field. The genre of the post-game interviews reassure us that, no matter how brutal the spectacle, we spectators aren’t really encouraging brutality. Sports are civil, after all! (This is, perhaps, why so many post-game interviews are conducted by women—emblems of civilization and all that.)
Use this thread to discuss Richard Sherman, football in general, or even this Sunday’s Superbowl game (which I won’t be watching).
- Can I just say that “Crabtree” would be a wonderful last name for a Simpsons character? [↩]