The Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. And, if you watched the dramatic end to Sunday night’s slugfest with San Francisco, you know that Richard Sherman’s game-saving tip of Colin Kaepernick’s end zone pass has a lot to do with that. It was a career-defining moment for Sherman, but it was the Seahawks’ cornerback’s reaction after the play that has created the biggest stir.
After the game-winning play, Sherman celebrated to be sure, and then jawed with the intended receiver on the play, Michael Crabtree, for which he was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Sherman skipped from the field making what appeared to be a choking gesture. Then, in what appears to be the most controversial play of the day, Sherman went on a tirade during a postgame interview with Erin Andrews. Here’s the interview, in case you missed it.
The, shall we say, less-than-diplomatic rant doesn’t exactly comport with generally accepted rules of sportsmanship and set off a firestorm on Monday. Whether Sherman’s comments were unseemly or just exuberant seems to have split public opinion. The public response to his interview has also raised questions implicating race. Sherman says he’s been the target of racial slurs and bullying in the aftermath.
The Internet pot was sufficiently stirred to the point that Richard Sherman himself weighed in, responding to the criticism of his postgame behavior at SI.com. “Near midnight I still had about 70 unread text messages from friends and family, most of which read, ‘Best interview ever!’ Many of my Twitter mentions were less supportive. My body ached. I was thrilled and proud and upset, all at once. Here’s what happened …” Sherman writes.
Here’s how he describes the game’s waning moments and his postgame comments.
I ran over to Crabtree to shake his hand but he ignored me. I patted him, stuck out my hand and said, “Good game, good game.” That’s when he shoved my face, and that’s when I went off. I threw a choking sign at 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Why? Because he decided he was going to try the guy he was avoiding all game, because, I don’t know, he’s probably not paying attention for the game-winning play. C’mon, you’re better than that. Erin Andrews interviewed me after the game and I yelled what was obvious: If you put a subpar player across from a great one, most of the time you’re going to get one result….A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don’t like him…To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family. But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it.