I get what Richard Sherman was up to with that epic rant after Sunday’s NFC title game where his Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers. Aside from Deion Sanders (who sometimes played offense), few modern defensive players achieve the kind of superstardom that is required to land big endorsements. This was his shot.
Given the fact that the Super Bowl was still two weeks away, and we were about to enter into a time when the sports world desperately searches for content to cover and hype the game, it made sense. What is more, the game would be held in the New York City metro region (where the endorsement deals are signed) — and the obvious star, Peyton Manning, would likely remain quiet (and boring) until game day. The opportunity to imitate Hulk Hogan in Piper’s Pit was almost irresistible.
So he did it. And it was probably a smart move for him. It got us talking, didn’t it? But it was also a selfish move. Selfish because it distracts from the game. And selfish because, while making him famous, it degraded the game, and (not to go too far with this one incident) probably says something about our society.
Of course, based on the fact that so many observers have applauded his brilliance, the damage may already have been done.
As Lisa Fabrizio sarcastically observes: “Sherman has his defenders who saw nothing wrong with his gracious display of magnanimity in victory. He is, after all, a Stanford graduate with a degree in communications, whose tirade was motivated by the heat of the moment or was merely an example of the trash-talking which, in their minds, is now a vital part of the modern game.”
This seems to be a commentary on our society. The bigger problem is that we are collectively incentivizing this sort of behavior by praising it — by calling it smart marketing — and by rewarding it with attention and sponsorship deals. This sends a signal to everyone — including kids — that the way to get ahead is to showboat. Class, graciousness, sportsmanship — these are all quaint things that we don’t have much room for these days.
This is, of course, still an extreme example (which is why we’re discussing it), but let’s be honest: Almost everything in our society is trending toward this direction. For example, more and more, it seems like political commentators are taking a page from Hollywood and the sports world, even as political coverage begins to resemble TMZ and ESPN. Compare the average cable news “hit” you see tonight to William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, and you’ll know what I mean. What happens when we all end up acting like Richard Sherman?
Hey, come to think of it, maybe this would be a smart career move for me the next time I’m on TV? All I have to say about that is this: “I’M THE BEST BLOGGER IN THE GAME. WHEN YOU TRY ME WITH YOUR TWEETS, THAT’S THE RESULT YOU GON’ GET. DON’T YOU EVER TALK ABOUT ME. DON’T YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH ABOUT THE BEST.”