The knee-jerk reaction created a tidal wave in social media Sunday night.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman was a classless thug for his comments to a routine question by FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
He went WWE.
He automatically set himself as a subject of an SNL skit.
Not so fast.
Sherman is more complex than a popoff athlete.
Sometimes, it’s too easy to toss someone in a stereotypical box and lock it up.
A few thoughts upon further review:
* We in the media often dismiss sideline interview for their boring, meaningless and cliche nature. Sherman actually said something out of the usual and anticipated lingo. And it stunned us. If you are gonna do sideline reports, you get what you ask for from volatile players after passionate games with several ups and downs.
* Those comments came minutes after he made the game-winning play after a brutal, physical game between teams and coaches who have a history of intense rivalry. There’s a reason that coaches and players customarily get a 10-minute “cooling off period” (except for the networks that pay big bucks for more immediate access).
* Sherman is a talker, often a loudmouth. Granted, when challenged, he sometimes speaks before he thinks fully and he speaks with arrogance. But he also has the mentality most coaches want in their cover corners. Larry Fitzgerald, a rival receiver, said he has never had a trash-talking problem with Sherman. He stated he won’t go off on you if you don’t go off on him.
* His gesture that got him an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty was reportedly a mimickry of a “Beats for Dre” commercial involving a Seattle fan and 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
* Years ago, Muhammad Ali did stuff like this all the time.
* Michael Jordan was acknowledged as one of the worst trash-talkers in the history of the NBA, but he and others guarded his more pristine image. Sherman doesn’t protect an image that he often plays with an edge.
* Sherman, from a disadvantaged background and the expectation of becoming an underachiever, was No. 2 in his high school graduating class.
* He went to Stanford and earned a degree in communications.
* He regularly talks to high schools students, noting that the average NFL career is 3 1/2 years and urges them to think more holistically about what they want to do in life.
* After the game, through Twitter, Sherman had this to say about the serious injury to rival lineman NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a “turn-away” leg injury that FOX showed way too many times, “Praying for @NBowman53 ... Hate to see such an amazing player go down like that... Speedy recovery.”
Somehow with Sherman, the emphasis became his off-the-pads remarks immediately after a intense game rather than his later expression of prayers and compliments toward a rival player.
What would have been the emphasis if Peyton Manning had done exactly the same two things?
It’s easy to judge by a sound bite.
The big picture is more complicated.
And most of us prefer the simple to the complicated.
It’s far easier to offer judgment rather than grace.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)