LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Richard Sherman has hijacked the Super Bowl.
The Seattle Seahawks cornerback did it just moments after breaking up a would-be game-winning pass in the end zone and causing the interception that sent the Seahawks past the San Francisco 49ers and into the Super Bowl Sunday night. FOX Sports put a camera and an Erin Andrews-held microphone into his face as the seconds were ticking off the clock. Sherman, Stanford educated and widely viewed as the best cornerback in the NFL (just ask him), obliged with just the kind of unfiltered emotion the network is looking for when it goes running up to players in such situations.
The fireworks and confetti were still flying when Andrews said, "Richard, the final play of the game, take me through it."
Oh, he took her through it.
"Well I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman said, working quickly into WWE mode. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get."
And he emphasized that last line by looking straight into the camera.
"Don't you ever talk about me!" he shouted at America. Andrews, a bit stunned, asked, "Who was talking about you?"
"Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best — or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick. L.O.B. (Legion of Boom, for the uninitiated.)"
And he was gone. But in that 30 seconds, he did something difficult to do in an age of managed personas and laundered sound bites.
He hijacked the Super Bowl.
We were all set for a Peyton Manning love fest, all-Manning, all the time, leading up to the Super Bowl in New York in two weeks. And look, I like Manning as much as the next guy. He's the consummate pro. But now, we have another storyline.
And it's a pretty safe bet that Sherman is going to provide more fodder.
I'm fascinated by the range of response to this among people I know, and those in the media who have weighed in.
Most people who have been around the game (or around media) for a while are horrified. Not only in his ungracious self-congratulation, but in his pointed and specific calling out of an opponent. By the time Sherman had reached the calmer postgame interviews with the assembled media, in fact, his views on Crabtree had softened not a bit.
"I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver. Mediocre," Sherman said. "And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens."
Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News, fired the first shot from the New York media by saying Sherman "acted and sounded like an idiot . . . even if he's anything but."
He's right. Sherman is no idiot. He is, in fact, a student of Muhammad Ali, himself known for seizing big moments and making himself even bigger through the words he chose to promote them.
In his column for Peter King's Monday Morning quarterback, Sherman wrote, "A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don't like him. It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don't want to be the villain because I'm not a villainous person."
It's a look-at-me world. And many I know, who tend to follow the game more through social media, and watch games with one eye on the television and the other on Twitter, loved his candor. And let's not pretend that his kind of response isn't what every TV executive hopes for when he dials up a sideline or postgame interview.
We can't have it both ways in the media. We can't want unvarnished, in-the-moment reaction and then bash guys when we get it.
What we're used to, especially from the major pro sports, is a certain level of class, a measure of grace in defeat. It's what we hope to teach our children. It's what we want to see displayed.
It's also boring, sounds canned and, even worse, often insincere.
Now Sherman, in fact, could've been just as brash without dancing over Crabtree's grave. He didn't have to mention his opponent by name.
But he did.
Sherman's Stanford degree was in Communication. He knows its power. And he knows exactly what he was doing.
America may not like it, but it has created it. Sherman has a compelling story, and one worth hearing, coming up from the streets of Compton, Calif., to the nation's biggest sporting stage. Now, he has the platform on which to tell his story, again, if he can get it out through the noise he has created.
One thing now is certain. He has everyone's attention.
Talk more about Sherman's rant with Eric Crawford today on The Afternoon Underdogs, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on WKRD-790 AM in Louisville