I wasn’t sure what I was going to post this week. Should I continue with my series on Uganda or put it to rest? Should I use something I have already written that is waiting in the wings? And then there are the things I want to write about August: Osage County…. I had lots of options and NFL football wasn’t one of them: more specifically Richard Sherman.
Disclaimer: I am not a die-hard football fanatic. I like the game and have enjoyed watching it since high school. I don’t have a fantasy football team, I haven’t memorized which player is on what team and there have been seasons (specifically when the Titans weren’t doing well) that I haven’t even watched a single game. So maybe it’s been a few years…. The Titans have been my official team since they moved to Nashville, and I really don’t have a back-up team to cheer for.
This year I found one. Having quite a few friends who are Seattle fans, I have paid attention to their progress this year. In some odd alignment of the planets, I was watching the NFC championship game and saw Richard Sherman’s sideline exchange with Erin Andrews live. To be honest, I laughed. I laughed at how ridiculous he sounded. I laughed at the bewildered expression on Andrew’s face. And I laughed because I think he actually might have sprayed spit on her as he spoke. I had NO idea what a big deal his 18 second answer would become.
At first I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the melee, because, well I have a bazillion other things going on. But I would had to have been living under a rock not to take notice.
As the lines were quickly drawn, two camps emerged. People seemed to either be a member of the tribe “how terribly inappropriate” or “he was blowing of steam – big deal”. And in the media frenzy that ensued, the name Richard Sherman began to be linked with thug. Really? A thug?
I’ve already admitted I don’t know a lot about specific players, so I decided to look him up. The NFL has no shortage of players, past and present, who would fit the definition of a thug. I expected to find something, but there was nothing. NOTHING. (NFL arrest database) To the contrary, everything I found suggested that Richard Sherman is not only an elite player at the top of his profession, but he is also an intelligent person.
A thug? Maybe my understanding of the word thug was wrong, so I looked it up. Thug – A brutal ruffian or assassin. Other definitions also add the words robber and murderer. It’s not my intent to laud Sherman’s accomplishments, so if you want to read them check here or here. But I think it’s safe to say that, by definition, he is no thug.
My opinion is this: he was caught up in the excitement of winning a championship game and he spouted off. At worst you might call him hotheaded, impulsive, or unsportsmanlike. Big deal! I know that someone will inevitably say, “Well, he’s arrogant!” So what? And when did recognizing that you are great at what you do become arrogance? And even if he is, does that make him a thug?
The bigger issue to me is how easily we throw around labels and make judgments based on an 18 second exchange. And that happens all day, every day without football championships. We, you and I, probably have never had a personal encounter with Richard Sherman, but how many of us were quick to start the name calling?
While I’ve never been even close to professional at anything except sticking my foot in my mouth, I have been hotheaded, arrogant, impulsive, etc… God only knows how many times I have been caught up in the heat of the moment and spouted off! Good thing there weren’t cameras present or I might be labeled a thug.