I’ve been working on a post about tonsillectomy recovery for the two weeks that I’ve been sitting on my ass recovering. I wanted to debunk some internet rumors about the recovery because I (like so many others) looked on the internet before the surgery and thought I was going to die. But alas, before I could finish that post and get it posted, the Seattle Seahawks played the San Francisco 49s and the world watched Richard Sherman be…well…Richard Sherman in what I’ve duped the Post Game Interview Heard ‘Round the World.
In the final minutes of the NFC Championship game Sunday night, the 49s were behind but in a position to score. Colin Kaepernick shot a bullet down the field, intended to go to Crabtree in the end zone. Instead, Richard Sherman of the Seahawks got his hands on the ball and tipped it to teammate Malcolm Smith, causing a turnover and essentially ending the game. After the play, Sherman “good-gamed” (re: tapped the ass of) Crabtree and tried to shake his hand, to which Crabtree responded with a nice little palm to Sherman’s facemask. Sherman did some more celebrating, the game finished, and then this happened: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7n7PiwYKag.
I won’t even lie…I was stunned. To call out another player (and by call, I mean scream at him) on national TV was jarring to start. My friends and I were watching the game and sat and shook our heads. We then waited for the twitter response, which of course came in fast and furious. Of the three of us in the group who have twitter, We shared laughs over tweets that were inappropriate but all in all, harmless. I even tweeted that Sherman sounded an awful lot like DMX as he basically barked his words in the interview. I also tweeted that if someone good-gamed me and obnoxiously tried to shake my hand, I’d mush them too.
Now I suppose it was my own naivety that allowed me to be surprised when, on Sunday night and Monday morning, we started to see reports of tweets and articles that weren’t in such good humor about Richard Sherman’s interview. Specifically, tweets about “taking the n-word out of the hood but not taking the hood out of the n-word” and things of that nature. I don’t know why I allowed myself to be surprised…but I was. Sherman repeatedly got called a classless, uneducated thug, and all kinds of other things we call black men who we don’t deem adequate or “socially acceptable” (here’s one article I found on this point: http://deadspin.com/richard-sherman-and-the-plight-of-the-conquering-negro-1505060117?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow)
As much as I’d like to sit here and educate all of you on white privilege, culture appropriation, and how these things are inherent in our society and to blame for the reaction to Sherman, I’d rather focus on debunking the ration of shit that came out against Sherman that is simply untrue or unfair.
1. Sherman graduated from high school with a 4.1 GPA. You can call grade inflation or the deteriorating public school system, but a 4.1 is a 4.1…that’s higher than my high school GPA, and even when I fly off at the mouth, you don’t accuse me of being an uneducated thug.
2. He was the first person from his Compton high school to get a scholarship to Stanford in over 20 years.
3. He was picked 154th in the draft in 2011. 154th. With 24 other cornerbacks going before him that year, it’s hard to not be impressed with where he’s at 2 years later.
4. He makes just over half a million dollars a year, which is right around the NFL average (re: he’s “rolling in the dough” by an average standard, but by NFL payment standards, he’s…well…average).
5. He was a two sport athlete while at Stanford AND he graduated. Before you get high and mighty about student athletes, VERY few are two-sporters, especially at D-1 institutions. Additionally, if a college football player intends to go to the NFL and attends some kind of training camp in their final semester, it can be very challenging to graduate because of the time commitment. If you still want to be an asshole because he’s a student athlete who graduated, the national graduation rate is only 59%, so shut.up.
Okay, okay…so none of this touches on whether or not Sherman is a classy individual. What I say to that is that until you make a game-changing, championship-winning play in front of millions of people–something you dream about from the first time you touch a football–I don’t think you can understand the emotions coursing through him at that time. He might not have spoken eloquently or even appropriately, but that interview was 100% raw emotion, and while I don’t know that I would have been able to recover the interview, I don’t think you can sleep on the pride Sherman was feeling at that moment.
I’ll end with this: people are always going to hate on something. In this case, it very quickly became about Sherman’s skin color and background. If it had been Tim Tebow, he would’ve thanked God and people would’ve scoffed at his religion and called him a bible thumper. If it was Jameis Winston, people would’ve heard him talk and called him an uneducated hillbilly (oh wait…that already happened). You can’t win ’em all, and while Sherman’s raw emotions rubbed people the wrong way and led to him being called classless, there have been some nights at the bar that I’ve been less than classy, and y’all aren’t trying to shit on my whole career for it…
**As the true grad student I am, the aforementioned information came from the following sites: