TOJ- Sidelines Episode 2: Bart Scott, Richard Sherman, And Trash Talk

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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.

  • Nikolas

    What are you smoking young man?

  • Dani

    Besides the fact that I am a Jets fan, I liked Bart Scott’s interview because he had raw emotion but didn’t make it all about him. Sherman just came off as selfish, and he doesn’t just trash talk on the field. Didn’t he try to start some lame twitter war with Revis during the off season? Enough already…

  • PC3

    Bart was different. He didn’t talk trash after every single play, Sherman pretty much does. The post game rants were different too. Sherman just laughed in Crabtrees face after the game had just ended then got snuffed. Then went on to make a fool of himself on TV. Bart was speaking the truth. We had just been blown out a little while back by the patriots, most experts said we would get smacked, there the great pats and where the little same old jets and yet we shocked pretty much everyone and Bart spoke 2 all the none believers, It was real and TRUE!

    POETIC JUSTICE.

  • Geronimo

    Doesn’t humour count? Trash talking is half the fun of sport, but if you are just a jerk, it doesn’t count. What Ali said is funny. Rex is funny too. There are few moments in life more enjoyable than humiliating your opponent in such a manner that if he reacts in upset, he appears childish, foolish. That requires humour.

    She-man was just being a jerk.

  • KAsh

    I am on vacation this week, so I have not seen any news or watched any coverage or read any articles, whether in print or online, as I avoid such things when possible. All I know about what Richard Sherman said is from watching his speech and actions at the end of last night’s game, reading what TOJ wrote (and the article Joe cited on Twitter, so I am wrong and I did now read three articles that touched on Sherman), the ESPN news bullets at the bottom of the screen as my Nets pounded the lousy Knicks, and from watching a few minutes of Around the Horn after the Knicks-Nets game. It sounds like a lot, but all I know is what Sherman said, that MMQB published an article by him in the morning, and the Pete Carroll told reporters he spoke to Sherman about it. That’s what I am working with.

    I know that right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral are among the many terms that mean very little nowadays, but they are important to understanding the difference between Bart Scott, Muhammad Ali, and Richard Sherman. The simplest explanation for the good is everything that benefits something above the individual and the immediate. Courage is good because the individual places himself in harm’s way to protect an ideal or a group. Justice is good because it supports a higher ideal rather than an individual’s temporary preferences. Coversely, the bad is beastial; it rewards the individual at the expense of others and is rightfully derided because of it.

    Many things, of course, are neither good nor bad. That is where most trash talk falls into. Trash talk, or jawing between individuals, is mostly neutral, as it boosts individuals at the expense of other individuals. It can be a force for good, but that is when the trash talker has a higher value on his side.

    Most of what Ali said in his boxing career was neutral, a psychological ploy to gain an advantage over his opponents. But his “I’m the greatest” speech was a triumph of truth over bias. Before the fight, Ali was underestimated by everybody. He had a reputation as a quick guy who could not hit hard. Everybody in the media predicted a dominant victory by Sonny Liston. When he has an elevated heart rate during the weigh-in, most speculated that Ali was scared and was not even going to show up to the fight. Everything Ali did after that match was a slap in the face to everyone who wrote him off and made up stories about him. He was a showoff who would not amount to anything going into the fight and came out as one of the greatest champions in history.

    Similarly, Bart Scott excorciated the media for the nonsense coverage they had for the entire week that led up to the game. He called out Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, who thought the Jets had no chance. He talked about how any team could beat any other team in a game. He reminded people that the Jets were a playoff team for a reason and not to ignore the weaknesses of the team everyone thought would win. This was the victory (and the speech) that defined the Jets as a resurgent team to the league.

    But Richard Sherman was in a completely different position than Ali and Scott. Going into the game, everyone thought he was one of the best, if not the best, corners in football. Everyone respected him for his play. So the celebratory part of his speech was already majority opinion. The part that everyone is interested in is the second one.

    I do not follow Sherman at all. The only thing I know that he previously said was when he called out Revis last year. But there is a discrepancy in the two occurences. When Sherman jawed with Revis on Twitter, the Seahawks front office came out in a tacit consent of his words, saying “God bless him.” I do not know if Pete Carroll actually talked with Sherman about what Sherman said, but it was an eye-opening choice of words. Carroll could have waved off the question in any number of ways – “what Richard said is his own personal matter,” “I’m not going to discuss what happens after the game,” “Richard was in the moment and said what he felt” – but “we had a talk” is what the father says to explain why the principal does not need to further concern himself with the son. As a representative of the Seahawks, Carroll talking to Sherman about Sherman’s trash talk also distances the entire team from Sherman. There is no better way of saying “Sherman does not represent all Seahawks” without throwing Sherman under the bus.

    So his team is none too happy with Sherman and Richard himself felt he needed to write an article justifying what he did. We already know that the Jets supported Scott to the hilt after what he said, but I also do not recall Ali ever writing an article to plead his case for what he said. Sherman needs to learn from O.J. and A-Rod: say absolutely nothing and you still might look innocent to enough people. But if you pen an article, you might as well include the apology in it. If Sherman thought this would gain him more recognition and a bigger public persona, he miscalculated and the article indicates that he himself knows it. He took things too far and attached something he did not want to his image.

    But in the end, it is important to understand why what Richard Sherman said crossed the line. Sherman chose the game of football and one of the biggest stages of that game for his personal squabbles. No one would have had a problem if Sherman called Crabtree a “sorry receiver” before the match, but he won and he chose to kick a guy he just beat fair and square. He was petty.

    Friedrich Nietzsche distinguished between two types of moralities: the morality of the masters, which had good and bad as its dichotomy, and the morality of the slaves, which had good and evil as its dichotomy. To the masters, the good was noble and heroic and the bad was everything petty (the slave). To the slaves, the good was kind and merciful and evil was vicious and violent (the master). Sherman managed to bridge the gap in four seconds.

  • KAsh

    Forgot one thing: the only new thing we discovered about Sherman from his post game trash talk is that he is an ass.

  • umm…

    …liked the article.

    But I still think there should be a character limit on reply length.

  • twoshady18

    I personally didn’t like Sherman at first because he was trash talking Revis for apparently no reason other than to springboard himself off of Darelle’s success. However, the more I hear from him the more i actually like him. He is entertaining and in the end that’s really what football is to us as fans. I thought Sherman’s post game comments were pretty funny and in reality that’s probably all he’s trying to accomplish. But mostly trash talking is just going to get you a big red target painted on your back. good luck with that in the NFL.

  • Lidman

    Why does every defense of Richard Sherman remind us of how smart he is, and that he went to Stanford?

    You can like the guy (see ‘twoshady18′s argument-this is entertainment), or not like him. I think he’s a great player who simply can’t control his emotions. His post-game rant, or his taunting of Tom Brady last year, isn’t ‘trash talk’. You ‘trash talk’ before the game, and during the game. He speaks before he thinks. When you do that and 50+mm people are watching, you’re going to put yourself in a position to be judged. Even in his SI piece (where he questioned people ‘judging’ him by his actions ‘between the lines’), hours after the adrenaline rush wore off, he took pot shots at Crabtree, Kaepernick and every QB who played for Cleveland this year (that’s not ‘trash talk’). He went to Stanford, so I’m assuming he proof read the article before he submitted it. So, again, I simply think the guy has a problem controlling his emotions.

    Richard Sherman is a great football player; there is plenty of evidence to support that. Richard Sherman is also a young man who has a problem containing his emotions. This often leads him to make bad decisions; there is also video evidence of that. If you continually are unable to harness your emotions, eventually one of those ‘emotional decisions’ will wind up costing you a lot more than some poor press. The fact that he was accepted to Stanford, or grew up in Compton, doesn’t exhonerate him from anything, IMO.

  • Drew

    I hate the crucifying players who trash talk.

    Why are we so sensitive? Does everyone like the Belichick press conferences?

    I love how righteous the media and fans can be. “Richard Sherman called Crabtree a ‘sorry receiver’ so he is an ASS!”

    All anybody does on message boards is talk trash! It’s like saying “Richard Sherman is a not allowed to talk trash, but I am!” It seems hypocritical to me.

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  • Anthony

    that was an awesome post-game interview. I loved it. I thought it was hilarious, and I enjoyed that it was done by the best player on either team.

    Nobody has, at all, mentioned that the game ending play, in a league that LOVES the drama of a single play, and will call anything close in that situation (in terms of pass interference was defended perfectly.

    Sherman closed that game. This wasn’t santonio celebrating a first down, this was winning a 1 on 1 battle with the odds stacked against you.

    I didn’t like sherman until that moment.

  • Joe Caporoso

    I really had no issue with Sherman’s interview either. I enjoyed it. The more fun in the game, the better.