Ernest Hemingway once said, “there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Richard Sherman once said, “Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league.”
I once said, “I don’t like Richard Sherman.”
I’ve never met him, but I loathe the man. I watch him on Sunday’s, and while I should be awestruck by his incredible athletic ability, I find myself, instead, aghast at his arrogance and classlessness.
Let me be clear, Richard Sherman is better at football than I will ever be at anything. Of this, there can be no doubt. He is the best defensive back in the NFL. I produce a radio show in the nation’s 65th largest media market and run a Web site of which no one’s ever heard. It’s no contest.
But let this also be stated clearly, for it is every bit as factual: Richard Sherman is everything that we complain about in the modern athlete.
Bestowed upon him has been God’s greatest gift, ability. And with that, and an inspiring amount of dedication and hard work on his part, possibility. The chance to go to Stanford – one of the world’s leading institutional facilities – and receieve a world class education. The chance to forego the daily grind of blue collar life for one paying him exponentially more and asking from him far less. The chance to live, quite literally, the dream.
And instead of treating that gift and those possibilities with the respect they deserve, instead of carrying with him a sense of appreciation or, at the very least, self awareness, he’s answered with conceit and hostility.
A few weeks ago I lamented that the sports world today is “awash with self-loving, self-aggrandizing, self-promoting blowhards.” Never has that been called into such specific relief as when the Seahawk corner took to the microphone seconds after his sparkling show of athleticism secured his team a trip to the Super Bowl and shouted about his being the world’s best, furious that anyone dare challenge him. Congratulating himself, barely mentioning the other 52 teammates with which he shared the field.
This, as it tends to be with both Richard Sherman and athletes today, was all about him. His moment, his recognition, his respect, and his name above all else.
Predictably, Sherman’s comments set off a media row, with battle lines drawn on either side. Vignettes and missives were penned and fired off on either side complaining about his lack of sportsmanship, and excusing it because of the moment’s heat, or because of his considerable intellectual prowess, or condemning those condemning Sherman for failing to appreciate an athlete speaking his mind, giving something other than the P.C. answer. And while those thoughts are as appropriate as the ones that skewed racist are disgusting and inexcusable, they don’t capture the real, significant truth of the situation.
This isn’t about the heat of the moment, this isn’t excused because of Sherman’s education – in reality, it’s made worse by it, this is how he uses his Stanford education? – and it’s not about the time some, not me, spend pining for a non P.C. answer. It’s about this:
Richard Sherman is a jerk. He’s a classless fool. A self-loving, self-aggrandizing, self-promoting blowhard.
It’s about a guy with a tragic lack of self awareness and it’s about a guy who doesn’t deserve the respect he’s so eager to tell you he’s earned, that he’s so eager to demand.
Because those who deserve respect don’t talk about it. They show it and let everything else speak for itself.
It’s about a villain, which is how too many athletes make it easy to peg them these days, by participating in the “bitter shouting match” that sport has become. One “played out through overused and overstressed voice-boxes, or the figurative ones of social media posts and garish celebrations of the routine.”
And by caring more about winning the shouting match than winning the game.
Author: Joe Bianchino
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_1045. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.