11. He’s from Compton.
Compton. You’ve heard about this place. It’s a scary, scary little neighborhood. The concrete jungle, they call it. Jungles are frightening. Concrete is also frightening. They shoot people there, supposedly. Gangs run rampant through the alleyways. Wannabe rappers approach you on street corners, Discmans in hand, demanding you listen to their mixtapes. There is nothing more petrifying than that.
And Richard Sherman, he’s from there, he’s from Compton. California! Everyone there smokes marijuana! And carries an AK-47, just like Ice Cube said! How did Sherman escape? He must be some sort of magician, or worse, a wizard. Not the good kind of wizard, either. He’s like Voldemort. The Voldemort of Compton. What do we do? WHAT DO WE DO?!
10. He screwed your fantasy team.
You started a quarterback who started against the Seahawks. That was a mistake.
You started a receiver who started against the Seahawks. That was also a mistake.
Your quarterback threw an interception…to Richard Sherman. Your receiver was blanketed all game long…by Richard Sherman. The end result? You lost your fantasy matchup…because of Richard Sherman. And now you don’t like that guy.
9. He’s smarter than you.
He has a degree in Communications from Stanford.
He scribes for Sports Illustrated.
He graduated high school with a 4.2 grade-point average, good for second in his class.
He can write complete sentences and use the correct forms of their, there, they’re, your, and you’re. Why’s he gotta be like that? Damn that guy for paying attention through fourth grade English.
8. He has dreadlocks.
Wash your hair, hippie! This isn’t Woodstock, or Hempfest, or a Dave Matthews Band concert, or whatever it is kids are into these days. This is football. PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL. It’s time these players started looking like professional professionals, the most professional. There’s nothing professional about that Bob Marley ‘do. Uh-uh, no way. Pert Plus, fool. Give it a try.
7. He can read minds.
My god. You were just talking to your buddies about how Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t have tried to throw over Richard Sherman when, lo and behold, Sherman said that very same thing on camera. And wouldn’t you know it, you too questioned the ability of Michael Crabtree, mediocre receiver, when Sherman raised those exact questions, himself.
What the hell, bro? This guy have ESP or something? He some kind of mind-reader? I don’t trust this dude. Why did he have to say those things I also said?! Screw that guy! Get out of my head, you evil bastard! I hate you!
6. He’s a thug.
Spending his off days performing community service, Sherman is well-known for his thuggish behavior. Patrolling the halls of hospitals and giving back to kids in need, the third-year cornerback carries himself like a true gangster, one who belongs to a gang that has yet to be identified, unless you count the Legion of Boom, which is rumored to be loosely associated with the Latin Kings. Or maybe it’s the Crips. Or it might be that other one they have, the Whatchamacalits, we’re not really sure. Regardless…thug.
5. He’s a fun-loving troll.
So yeah, he patted his former college coach Jim Harbaugh on the behind after his Seahawks trounced Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in Week Two of the regular season.
And yeah, he also patted Niners wideout Michael Crabtree on the behind when Crabtree was denied a touchdown on the final drive in the NFC Championship game.
And okay, yes, he did greet Crabtree with an overzealous attempt at a handshake right after that sneaky little butt-pat and the game-ending deflection that led to a Seattle interception.
And if you go back a ways, he did get in Tom Brady’s ear once after a Patriots loss to ask if the quarterback was mad, bro.
And he did silence ESPN talking head Skip Bayless by casually informing the obnoxious journalist that he was “better at life” than him.
Yes, he did all that. And more.
But in the world we live in, that’s called being a troll. Trolls can be good, bad, or somewhere in-between. Sherman is the best kind of troll there is. He’s a fun-loving, clever little troll who entertains more often than he irritates. Are you not entertained? Don’t we all just want a little entertainment?
4. He endorses Beats By Dre.
Wait. Beats By Dre? Isn’t that Kaepernick’s brand? Don’t they sponsor him? What is Sherman doing with their brand on? I thought we all agreed to boycott Beats! I thought we hated Beats! What is happening?!
The moral of the story: this is why it’s a bad idea to get irrationally upset over headphones. Headphones, people. They’re just headphones.
3. He’s classless.
Richard Sherman isn’t classy, they say. And what is class, you ask? That’s a great question.
To some, class means saying “Please” and “Thank you.”
To others, class is speaking only when spoken to.
To others still, class means driving 50 miles per hour in the left lane of a major interstate with those whimsical little family decals stuck to the rear window of your Ford Windstar and a Jesus fish perched just above your “My child is a middle school honor student” bumper sticker.
Class, as it turns out, is pretty hard to define. And yet by every definition, supposedly, Richard Sherman is alleged to lack possession of that uber-ambiguous character trait we come to associate with politeness and silence and Jesus fish.
Well then. In that case, I want to be classless, too.
2. He’s a loudmouth trash-talker.
Did you not play sports growing up? Have you never enjoyed a little good-natured back and forth with a worthy adversary? Are you non-competitive? Are you soft? Are you a wimp? Do you fail to find the humor in, well, everything? Do you fail to succeed at much of what you do? Do you hate being reminded of your frequent failures? Are you upset over the way your life has transpired? Are you stuck in a loveless relationship? Do you look in the mirror and cry for long periods of time? Have you ever peed yourself just to enjoy a feeling of warmth?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, or if you’re vehemently opposed to answering any of the above questions, then I’m sorry, but you are not qualified to label Richard Sherman a loudmouth trash-talker.
If you still find yourself qualified to pass judgment and are still convinced that Sherman is little more than a loudmouth trash-talker, please turn the volume of your hearing aid down, exit your glass house, and judge accordingly once again.
1. He’s dark.
That year-round tan he sports is no coincidence: Richard Sherman might just be African-American. And in today’s society, that’s still a big deal to a number of people.
If the immediate internet backlash to Sherman’s NFC Championship postgame comments was any indication, a number of Americans still can’t accept certain behaviors without first considering ethnic background. In layman’s terms, we call that prejudice. And when it has to do with ethnicity, it’s better known as racism. People in this country are racist? Gasps abound.
But you already knew this. I’m not the first person to refer to skin color in a column on Richard Sherman and his quote-unquote attitude. It’s almost becoming cliché at this point. It’s hard to really know whether this desensitization to the idea of racism is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s certainly developing into reality. Are we making progress through overexposure? Or are we not making enough progress because we’ve started to tune out the messages of equality?
The fact is, if Sherman were a white guy who yelled into a TV camera, we’d all giggle. All of us. Because that’s just how we react to white guys mean-mugging through our flat-screens. Why do you think WWE is so successful? Because of impassioned, yelling white guys.
For example, take San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Isn’t Rivers just a goofball? Every time he goes nutso on the sidelines, we can’t help but smirk. He doesn’t look right expressing that much emotion. It comes across as wacky, rather than threatening.
But don’t you think Rivers might want to be taken seriously in those instances? When he’s trying to fire up his teammates, do you really think he’d appreciate being laughed at? When he’s screaming passionately in an interview over the good or the bad that just took place on the field, do you honestly believe he’s trying to be a comedian? Hell no. The guy is as serious as serious gets. But to us, it all seems so silly.
On the flip side, we have Sherman. Sherman’s antics aren’t much different than those of the San Diego signal-caller. Like Rivers, Sherman also wants to convey passion and inspire through communication. But unlike Rivers, society’s reaction to his behavior is decidedly different. There are those who are fearful of Sherman because he doesn’t look like many of us, because he’s an ethnic minority, because he manages to appear less goofy than Rivers. That’s scary. And for some godawful reason, when people get scared, they often get angry.
Who knows if that’s something the human race will ever be able to control. Some of us are built more tolerant, more intelligent, less afraid, less reactive, and less angry than others. But there are still millions upon millions of people who can’t control their rage when faced with something out of the ordinary.
So we use Richard Sherman as a vehicle for our ire. And we’re no better for it than we were before. It’s a unique predicament, and one for which there isn’t an easy solution.
Why do Americans hate Richard Sherman? Mostly, because they are not him. And he is not them. And that dissonance is great enough to invoke stupidity. Why are we so stupid sometimes?