By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Let’s start with a confession. I was caught up Monday in the media swirl about the postgame rant Sunday by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
Along with millions of Americans, I heard the comments live, when Erin Andrews innocently put her TV microphone in front of him immediately after Seattle beat San Francisco 23-17 for its second shot at the Super Bowl.
Sherman had made a last-minute deflection of a pass intended for 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and the Seahawks got a game-clinching interception on the play from Malcolm Smith. Sherman was a logical choice for a nationally-televised quote or two after the final whistle.
Viewers got more than they expected.
It sounded for a moment like Muhammad Ali in his prime, touting his excellence, though without the poetry and colorful analogies. Remember “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”?
He called Crabtree “a sorry receiver” going up against “the best corner in the game.” He yelled, supposedly for Crabtree’s ears, “Don’t you ever talk about me!”
The journalist in me gets a charge out of hearing unfiltered, unguarded comments from an athlete. We get awfully tired of hearing Bill Belichick or Peyton Manning saying, “They’re a good team. They do everything well. We’ve got to play well to beat them.”
I felt some compassion for Andrews as well, imagining myself holding that microphone and trying to get something newsworthy out of that quick interview — other than a forceful, combative diatribe aimed at another player.
I could sense the relief in her voice when she spun back to the camera, wide-eyed, and blurted, “Back to you, Joe.”
Mere seconds later, I thought about the lack of class of a pro athlete to take this opportunity and turn it into a grandstanding platform for self-praise and for loathing of a guy he really does not like.
Moments after one of the most important wins in the history of the franchise, the story started to spin in his direction instead of analysis of what the Seahawks did on offense, defense and special teams to defeat their NFC West rivals in the conference championship.
That continued into Monday. As expected, The Associated Press ran followup stories from Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and Massachusetts.
I usually lay out the sports pages on Monday evening, and I was looking for AP reports, at least from the first two of those four locations, to provide more perspective about the stories behind Sunday’s two games and what’s ahead for the Super Bowl combatants.
The media swirl was unabated. Instead of analysis, the stories told us that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had talked to Sherman, which Carroll characterized as like “a father talking to his son.”
He said in the AP story that Sherman “didn’t feel right about that. There were a lot of great things that happened last night and we’re talking about some other stuff.”
The AP writer chose to continue to focus on Sherman’s comments, the day after the game. So did ESPN, Fox and a slew of websites devoted to sports.
I made a judgment call, perhaps influenced by what it seemed everybody else wanted to talk about, and put the story on page B-4 of Tuesday’s edition. If there was something else to use from the Seahawks, I would have.
The speculation is now out there that Sherman, an alumnus of Stanford University, was not speaking off-the-cuff at all, but was making a calculated play for national notoriety by sounding like a pro wrestler yelling at a TV camera.
Let’s face it. Seattle does not get a lot of national sports exposure. It’s often playing late games on the West Coast, while a national audience is tuned into some other “doubleheader” game.
With the Seahawks sharing the best record in the NFL, notice is now being taken of the defensive secondary’s cute title of “The Legion of Boom.” Sherman and safety Earl Thomas were named to the 2013 All-Pro first team. (Virginia Tech alumnus Kam Chancellor, another “legionnaire,” is on the second team.)
Outside of fantasy-league guys and Seattle fans, though, many did not know that Sherman was in the running for the title of “best corner in the game.” Sherman made his case in the most visible way possible, and showed his lack of class to the nation.
Ignore it if you wish. There will be many more stories from Seattle, and New York City, in the next 11 days — and some won’t even mention his name.
Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and cartoonist. Contact him at tbone @ bdtonline.com.