If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize. -Muhammad Ali
The above quote is from, arguably, the greatest trash talker that has ever lived. It seems apropos to remind people that trash talking your opponent has existed in sports long before the age of social media. Muhammad Ali used to trash talk his opponents when his every quote couldn’t be analyzed in 140 characters, less than 20 seconds after it went viral. Richard Sherman, sadly, doesn’t live in that same time.
After a nail-biter NFC Championship Game, the conversation should’ve been about the Seahawks advancing to the Super Bowl to take on the Denver Broncos. We should’ve been talking about the great play of Marshawn Lynch, Earl Thomas, and the Richard Sherman. We should’ve been sending out prayers for Navarro Bowman after tearing his ACL. We should be complaining about the need for all turnovers to be reviewed or criticizing Colin Kaepernick for his three turnovers. These are the things we should be talking about. Instead, we’re talking about this:
Too often with athletes, we forget that they are humans too. Have you ever been asked a question after doing really well in school or seeing your favorite team win a big game? I know I felt downright untouchable when this happened:
I felt that way without having to make a tackle or a deflection. Bart Scott’s “Can’t Wait” rant is one of the better post-game interviews because it is real. The Jets had been hosed by the Patriots 45-3 just a few weeks before the rematch. Bart wanted the world to know that the Jets remembered everything that was said about them after that loss and that he was happy to prove everybody wrong. Bart talked trash.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck used his first interview after being eliminated from the playoffs to trash Wes Welker about what he perceived to be a dirty hit on CB Aqib Talib. Whether you agreed with Bill or not, his reaction was a human one. Bill talked trash.
I trash talk my friends after my team beats theirs and they return the favor. Richard Sherman is no different from you or me, except for the fact that he gets paid to play a game we all love. Why hold him to a higher standard? Too often we make excuses for players. Sherman was admitted to Stanford University despite being raised in gang-infested Compton but we then criticize him for a real human moment filled with real human emotion. Richard Sherman is a 25 year old young man who earned the right to celebrate his performance. This is a game; it isn’t life or death. This is 22 men, on a field, trying to be better than the men across from them.
We’ve seen Tom Brady chase a referee down a tunnel, we’ve seen Peyton Manning fist pump, and now trash talking is excessive? People want Sherman to show class but refuse to hold every player in the league to the same standard. Do we want robots playing the game or humans? If you answered humans, then accept the fact that they will do and say things that make us happy, angry, or upset.
Trent Dilfer said today that he wouldn’t train his kids to behave like Richard Sherman. I don’t know if you can train your children, but if I can help my children get out of a dangerous area, attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world, graduate with a 3.0 grade point average, and his worst quality is a little trash talking, then being like Richard Sherman isn’t be half bad.