CHILD ON THE WAY. My wife and I are expecting a boy and we’ve been talking about how she does not want him to play football. We watched the constant flow of injuries during the NFC Championship Game and she’s already in the process of putting her foot down. Then, Richard Sherman goes on his taunt of Crabtree, taunt of Kaepernick, and the interview rant. My wife looks mortified. Why do we want our son to experience that? We already know that football is declining as a youth sport. Do you think it’s going to be any better when we have a bunch of kids acting like Sherman running around a field?
I empathize with you. I hate the woofing. I hate the trash talk. But it’s there, and I’m sure lots of youth coaches are dealing with young players who emulate what they see on TV. It didn’t start with Sherman, but he’s very good at it. The Niners do it, the Panthers do it … Heck, almost every team does it. I would just say that youth sports (including football) are fantastic for teaching kids good life lessons about teamwork. No reason your boy can’t play something else.
HE LIKES WHAT HE SAW SUNDAY. I’m a white male around your age and I think Richard Sherman is great. He’s thoughtful, articulate, hard-working and, best of all, he doesn’t sanitize his thoughts with PR-speak or put them through a “how will it play in middle-aged white America” filter. Maybe he regrets the heat of his post-game rant, maybe not, but his words pale next to the fury of the racist tweeters who condemn him. Sad to say, these tweeters look for any excuse to justify their slurs. Anyway, I think Richard Sherman’s a great addition to your outstanding MMQB coverage.
MEMO TO RICHARD SHERMAN. Hi Richard. I hope you read this and understand. You’re a great NFL cornerback; you’ve proven that with your play on the field. You’re a very smart man; you’ve proven that with your achievements in schooling. You’re a good influence off the field; you’ve shown that with your off-field work. The problem is that you have consistently proven that you are classless on the field. You are constantly talking trash, getting in players faces and disrespecting everyone you play against. Your lack of class is so loud that it drowns out the fact that you are smart and that you are a good influence off the field. Nobody will care about who you are off the field until you act with class on the field. If you really want to make a difference and show everyone that you are a good person, stop acting like a man child on the field and show some class.
Consider the message passed.
JAMES IS NOT CONVINCED SHERMAN IS ALTRUISTIC. You said to let Sherman speak for himself and he did. His explanation came up woefully short in his behavior both on the field and off. It is a disgrace whenever a player makes a ‘choking’ or throat-slash at another player or team. Furthermore, the explanation of ‘it was adrenaline talking’ to Erin Andrews is woefully lacking. Coaches are always on their players to play under control and don’t let the moment get the better of you. Leave your dislikes of the other players on the field and have some class.
Agreed that the throat-slash gesture was totally bush league. I hate that, and it’s a terrible message to send.
THERE’S A CONNECTION. I feel like Richard Sherman and his supporters are overlooking the connection between his consistent unsportsmanlike behavior and the unsportsmanlike actions of the fans who threw popcorn at an injured Bowman. When you cultivate an environment that celebrates arrogance, trash talking and disrespect for your opponent, how can you be disappointed when your fans feel empowered to act the same way? As for those who responded to Richard’s antics with racist taunting, if you want the man to conduct himself with more class perhaps you should start by showing some class yourself.
I see the connection, but there’s no excuse for a fan to throw anything on the field, regardless what the men on the field are doing.
SHERMAN’S OKAY. I would like to take a minute to apologize to Mr. Sherman. While watching that interview I thought, ‘How stupid of him.’ But after reading his article and the thought provoking statements he made about judging him by his entire body of work versus just those few seconds changed my mind. I applaud him not only for his play on the field, but also for making me look at myself and how quickly I judged him. I was wrong.
Consider the message passed.
A READER IS DISAPPOINTED WITH ME. I am an avid fan of your column and The MMQB website. After reading your column today, I was disappointed in your response to the Richard Sherman’s “woof” on national television. Peter, you have advocated for sportsmanship in your columns many, many times over the years. You, among others have decried the lack of morals and character in the NFL on how it continues to degrade. Yet you provide a forum for these types of individuals on your website, especially Richard Sherman who has a history of this type of behavior. I guess that a double standard exists even with you. The bottom line must be website hits. You could have sent a strong message, reached out to the many young people who follow your column and provided a great example of what sportsmanship is about or what it should be about in today’s sports. Instead, you gave what I consider a lame response and what-the-hell attitude. I lost a little respect for The MMQB today.
And that is your right. Lots of people feel the way you do, and I understand. I struggled with opening my eyes and allowing Sherman to say whatever he wanted to say, because I do not like what he did on the field, particularly in the taunting and the throat-slash gesture, and the rage he showed in the interview with Andrews. I appreciated him telling what he saw as the truth to Andrews, but I also didn’t like his tone. But it was real, and that’s the other thing I struggled with here: We ask players to be real, and if you watch football, you see this kind of behavior all the time. So now we’ve seen it up close and personal in front of 56 million views (that was the peak rating of the Seattle-San Francisco game), and we don’t like what we saw. I don’t have a what-the-hell attitude about it. I don’t like it. But the fact is, I’m not the journalism police. I can have an opinion, which I gave, but then, I also want others who feel differently to be allowed to give their opinions too.
ANOTHER READER IS DISAPPOINTED IN ME. I think you made some poor choices in addressing the Richard Sherman situation, and I think you’ve let yourself off the enabler’s hook a bit too easily. Contrary to what you suggest in your column, I wouldn’t expect you to fire Richard Sherman, or even to muzzle him in this case, but I would have expected you to provide the young man with some guidance based on your role as his editor-in-chief at MMQB, and as a mature 56-year-old man who has clearly developed a relationship with Mr. Sherman. Perhaps there was some notion of journalistic principle that I’m unable to divine that caused you to publish Sherman’s column as you did, but whatever the reason, I think it was a bad call. But this letter is really about you Peter, not Mr. Sherman. I read his column today. The one that you, his editor-in-chief, ostensibly approved for publication. The column was mostly a continuation of the same childish, chest-pounding, name-calling drivel that he barked at Erin Andrews. Granted, he threw in some self-serving claims to being misunderstood, and a dash of ostensible concern for the treatment of NaVorro Bowman. In the context of the overall piece, even that last bit came across as a clumsy attempt to establish his humanitarian bona fides. What I did not see in Mr. Sherman’s column was anything meaningful in the journalistic sense. No thoughtful reflection or introspection. Which is why I circle back to you, his editor. What were your thoughts when you approved his column for publication? What did you make of an opportunity to help a young man grow up, using the demands of quality journalism, along with your position as his editor and (I am assuming) respected friend, to help him? It appears very little. Instead, you provided him a respectable journalistic pedestal from which to release more infantile idiocy. That, my friend, is what they in the science call “enabling.” In one bold stroke you’ve managed to both legitimize Sherman’s ranting and debase your own journalistic edifice.
—Stephen Van Doren
Understood. But columns are by their definitions a person’s opinion. Should I say to Sherman, “I don’t like your opinion; change it? Soften it?’’ It is up to Sherman to write the interpretation of events as he sees them. It is up to me to decide whether to publish them. He is a newsmaker with strong opinions, which is why I asked him to do a column for us in the first place. His job is convey the opinions the way he wants. My job is to decide whether to run it. Your job is to decide whether to read it, and then to decide whether you hate him or love him or somewhere in between
HE HATES SHERMAN. You should be ashamed for letting such a ruthless thug like Richard Sherman contribute to your website. He is a poor sport, and he proved it on the last play of last night’s game. His continued contributions will ensure a loss of this reader.
Thanks for writing.
SHERMAN IS BOORISH, I’M AN ENABLER. When I saw Sherman’s childish rant last night, one of the first things I thought was, “Can’t wait to see how Peter rakes him over the coals for that display”. Imagine my surprise when I read you almost sticking up for and apologizing for him. I don’t care if he does write for you. I’ve been following football passionately since I was about eight years old (I’m 56 now). During this time I’ve witnessed the unfortunate growth of trash talking and foolish behavior but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as boorish and unsportsmanlike as what Sherman was spewing last night. I love your column. I read it religiously every Monday and will to continue to do so but you’ll never get me to agree with your call on this one.
Thanks for writing, and I understand your feelings and the scores of those whose opinions I didn’t run here. All of you have given me a lot to think about.