Should Sherman Be Disciplined For Post-Game Rant?

Richard-sherman-618x400I enjoyed the game with the kids last night between the San Francisco 49ers that sent the Seattle Seahawks. That amazing game however was marred by a bizarre rave from cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman immediately followed the win with a screaming and unhinged rant. The question is whether the Seahawks should be able to discipline Sherman for such a disgraceful performance — just after an equally disgraceful taunting of the 49ers. I would be the first to defend the free speech rights of Sherman to act like a street thug and even diss opposing players like San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree. However, the Seahawks drew well-deserved praise on this blog for moving against thugs in the stadium in the prior game with the 49ers. How about the thugs on the field? This is not an attack on free speech by the government. The question is whether a company can discipline an employee at work for behaving like a thug. UPDATE: Sherman has been fined by the NFL for his taunting shortly before his outburst on television.

Sherman followed the interception against the 49ers by engaging in raw unsportsmanlike conduct, including a choke taunt to rub salt in the wound of the opposing team. He then was called over by a friendly Erin Andrews who cheerfully asked him for his reaction. Andrews was virtually speechless as Sherman started screaming: “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get! Don’t you ever talk about me!” I realize that Sherman and Crabtree were trash talking in the game, but this is still a game watched by millions of families. It is bad enough, as we have previously discussed, that families have to content with drunken, foul-mouthed fans in stadiums. Now, the players are demonstrating the worst type of conduct and values on television. I am a big supporter of unsportsmanshiplike conduct penalties. However, this was after the game. Should the Seahawks be allowed to fine players for this type of rude and uncivil conduct while wearing a Seahawks uniform on the field?

Crabtree strikes me as showing the same idiocy in this game and should be reprimanded for his own lack of sportsmanship. I understand Sherman’s excuse that he was pumped up and mad but I am tired to just shrugging off the notion that sports celebrities should not be required to be role models. Movie celebrities are often immature toddlers. However, they do not represent a team and represents a city. We have a race to the bottom in both stadiums and on the field as we dismiss this type of conduct as irrelevant or expected. It is part of a society that seems to be losing basic notions of control and civility. I think that people paid millions should be expected to show a modicum of maturity and self-control. If this were a Chicago Bear, I would feel the same way. Indeed, I would be even more disgusted. Between the thugs in the stands and the thugs on the field, we are losing this game to the lowest common denominator.

What is interesting is that a fan can be fired and banned for life for acting like an ass at a stadium, but a player (particularly a good one) seem immune from such responsibility (or the most minimal requirements of society) in appearing on television at a football game.

Later, Sherman only slightly toned down his message, which he must have thought brought him within the limits of civilized society. In an interview, he trashed Crabtree again and said “I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver. Mediocre. And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that’s what happens.” Thanks for that clarification.

By the way, Sherman is a Stanford graduate with a degree in communications.

UPDATE: There is a rather bizarre notion raised that suggesting that Sherman could be disciplined for this conduct is an attack on free speech. Free speech allows you to speak without government censorship or punishment. It does not mean that adults can say anything without any personal repercussions, particularly while at work. This blog is committed to free speech. Indeed, we have often been accused of being too extreme in our defense of free speech. However, this is not a question of free speech. It is a question of civility and professionalism. If an employee screams profanities at customers or co-workers, it is not a free speech issue. It is a question of the code for employees. If an employee shows contempt for customers or co-workers, it is not a free speech issue. Free speech means that no one can force you not to be an idiot. However, in society, being an idiot comes at a cost with people who do not want to appear idiots. The fact that this would not seem “so bad,” only shows how far our society has diverged from basic expectations of conduct from adults. This is precisely why professional sports is being a beacon for those who want to get drunk and act like juveniles. Call it prissy or prudish if you want. However, I do worry about how this type of conduct is being treated as just harmless trash talk. It is not the content but the conduct that it being raised by some of us. If we cannot agree that this type of conduct is improper for a professional athlete in a game, we have surrendered far too much in our expectations for a civil society.

308 thoughts on “Should Sherman Be Disciplined For Post-Game Rant?”

  1. The Broad Street Bullies, Philadelphia Flyers teams of the 1970’s, brought the beleaguered city of Philly from out of the basement of sports by winning the Stanley Cup. They were called a team of “thugs” continuously by the press for many years. Dave Schultz was their chief “thug enforcer.” The Oakland Raiders were known as a team of “rogues” and “thugs” w/ many of their white players, like Phil Villipiano, being some of the biggest “thugs.” I could go on. At least Beanie Barnes is black, but she doesn’t know much about sports. Give me a veteran sportswriter like a few I’ve mentioned[Wilbon, Whitlock, Moore], not some wet behind the ears reporter who obviously doesn’t know shit from shinola.

  2. Spinelli

    I was captain of my college wrestling team in the -60sI,. l also practiced tae kwon do from age 55 to 60 and won three national championships. I am now an overweight 65 year old. I am also non-white. Any time that you want to take me on in a martial arts setting, let me know.

  3. America’s racial double standard: White celebs are excused, but black stars are “thugs”
    White stars escape the judgment Richard Sherman received — even if, like Justin Bieber, they get arrested

    Following the NFC Championship game last weekend, Richard Sherman gave an interview to Erin Andrews. He yelled to millions watching in their living rooms about being the best and shutting down opposing receiver Michael Crabtree. However, following his interview, he somehow morphed from a football player who had just reached the pinnacle of sports achievement into a racial stereotype.

    Suddenly he was “classless,” a “thug” from Compton, and any manner of other negative terms that one can substitute for the N-word. Sherman was no longer human, but a racist caricature.

    Black people exist in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” space within American conversation. If a black person does something that’s seen as negative, that negative behavior is used as yet another example of how “we” are. Negative behavior, so it goes, is just inherent in “us.”

    On the flip side, if a black person achieves something positive, the positive achievement is often dismissed as either undeserved or the result of an innate gift the achiever can’t take credit for. Many people believe President Obama only got into Harvard because of affirmative action, and just as many believe he was only elected into office (twice, no less) because he is black. In sports, the success of white athletes is most often attributed to “smarts” and “hard work,” but the success of black athletes is often attributed to “natural ability” or “God-given” talent.

    In 1999, when Brandi Chastain whipped off her shirt to celebrate the U.S. Women’s World Cup win, photos of her celebration landed her on the covers of Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Time magazine. She described her spontaneous action as “momentary insanity … the greatest moment of my career, and I lost control.” However, when the black men of the 2000 Olympics gold medal 4×100 team removed their shirts in celebration, they were called a “disgrace.” And Serena Williams was harshly criticized for doing a popular L.A. dance when she won her Olympic gold medal (and, as Gawker’s Cord Jefferson notes, called a “thug” when she argued with an ump).

    When Ryan Lochte represents the U.S. on the international stage wearing grillz, it’s a fashion statement — all anyone wonders is “can he pull it off?” However, Trayvon Martin is called a “thug” for wearing the exact same thing (google “Trayvon Martin grillz thug” and the same for Ryan Lochte).

    And Richard Sherman, the high school salutatorian who graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA, has now been reduced to an uneducated unsportsmanlike “thug” in the American lexicon for giving a passionate interview that some people didn’t like. Black hockey player Ray Emery was subjected to similar dismissiveness. When he was involved with a fight with fellow goalie Braden Holtby, he was widely called a “thug,” a moniker never attributed to any of the dozens of white players who fight at nearly every hockey game. And white players who break the hearts of opposing team’s fans with game-winning plays never get the kind of vitriol that was directed at Joel Ward for scoring the winning goal in a playoff game.

  4. Erin Andrews on Richard Sherman interview: ‘It was awesome’
    Posted on January 23, 2014
    By Ari Liljenwall

    “It was awesome because I’ve done so many interviews that are just so cliché and so rehearsed and the same old same old where you feel like you’re sleepwalking,” Andrews told Emily Zemler. “This is one where I was like, ‘What is happening right now?’ I’ve never been a part of something like that, and obviously that’s why everyone nationally is talking about it.”

    Later in the interview, Andrews even says that Sherman is one of her favorite players.

    “I actually really like Richard Sherman a lot,” she said. “He’s probably one of my favorite football players. The guy is so smart and he’s got an unbelievable story. That was just pure, raw emotion.”

    Andrews’ Twitter account told much the same story, as she posted several pictures with Sherman on Thursday morning after taping a segment for next week’s Super Bowl coverage.

  5. I know some will be relieved to know that the NFL has dealt with a “thug”:

    Seahawks’ Richard Sherman fined $7,875 for taunting

    Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman earned the kind of exposure money can’t buy with his play and his antics at the end of last weekend’s NFC Championship Game.

    The NFL is taking a little of his actual money, though. A league spokesman said Friday that Sherman has been fined $7,875 because he “unnecessarily taunted his opponent.”

    Sherman also drew a flag for taunting after tipping the victory-clinching interception to teammate Malcolm Smith in the final minute of Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, sending the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLVIII.

    After the play, Sherman offered a handshake to 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, who shoved him away, and flashed a choke sign he said was aimed at quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Crabtree was not fined.

  6. This white privilege meme confounds me. I have some questions. Do Asians and Latinos have white privilege. If you are mulatto but look pretty white do you have white privilege-lite? If a white person marries a black person and they have kids does the white member still have white privilege? Are there camps to rehabilitate white privilege. Since white privilege sounds an awful lot like the Catholic Original Sin, can we come up w/ a baptismal rite to cleanse us of white privilege?

    Early on in this thread, before it got whacko, I said this was about money. The very intelligent Richard Sherman has been creating this anti hero character to try and make some serious $. He makes about 500k but that’s small potatoes compared to wide receivers, QB’s etc. And hell, 3rd string catchers in MLB make that. Well, I was watching Jake Tapper today and he had a segment on Sherman. His agent just announced Sherman signed a $5 million dollar endorsement deal for a national campaign for some unnamed company. Unlike some here, I applaud people making money and becoming rich. I detest the obnoxious, rude, cartoon act, but I applaud this young man hitting the jackpot. And, for the record, you can call me honky, peckerwood, white trash, dago, wop, greaseball, WHATEVER you want, if I can get $5 million for it.

  7. Interesting comments. As usual, Elaine provides insight and was joined by a few (I’d name them but miss some.)

    Some things I learned:

    Most football player interviews are at least 5 minutes after the game so they have a cooling off period, time to let the adrenalin move to more normal levels. The Sherman interview was immediately after a stupendous play that not only won the game, it won the team a place in the Super Bowl, and it was against a player with whom Sherman had had bad interactions in the past and who refused a hand shake/good game interaction with a physical response. His adrenalin was super high, even so, it was bad form to diss another player. He has since apologized.

    The interviewer was not at all intimidated, loved the interview, and has great respect for Sherman. Would the reaction have been so racist if she were not an attractive blond white woman?

    The racist reaction that called him names, including “thug” is inexcusable. He is not a thug, nor was his interview “thugish”. It was raw, it was emotional, and exactly what I’d expect from any player given the full set of circumstances. Based on the REACTION to Sherman’s very honest interview, I hope he has an outstanding game against whatever team they play in the Super Bowl. (Don’t tell me what the other team is. I obviously don’t follow this violent sport and I really don’t care what the other team is.)

    re: white privilege. It’s something that all white people in this country have. None are excluded, although poor whites have less of it than well-to-do whites, they have more of it than poor POC have. Those who are aware of their privilege either use to their own advantage, and thereby further the racist structures in the country, or they try to mitigate its detrimental affects on those who don’t have it by trying to break down the racist structures. There are also many who deny its existence and their own complicity in furthering the racism that oppresses so many. Of the three, denial seems to be the most prevalent on this blog.

  8. ap,

    “…which pretty well sums up an overblown incident that should have been a blip on the post-game radar. It’s the reaction to Sherman’s outburst that, clearly, merits our attention, IMO.”


    I agree.

  9. nick spinelli on 1, January 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Was blind but now I see.


    That’s good, nick. Happy for ya.

  10. The comment didn’t post. Presumably someone freed it from the comment cage. That’s it. End of that little story. But go ahead. Spin it.

  11. Sherman said Wednesday his postgame comments Sunday were ”misdirected and immature” but he is not a villain or a thug. -ESPN article, below

    “Commish not a fan of Sherman’s rant”

    Updated: January 23, 2014, 9:29 PM ET (with video)

    Add NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to the list of those not pleased with Richard Sherman’s rant following the Seattle Seahawks’ victory in the NFC Championship Game.

    “No, I’m not cheering for that,” Goodell said on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, referring to comments Sherman made about San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree following the Seahawks’ thrilling 23-17 victory last weekend. “(Sherman) is such a great young man. He is extremely well-spoken, does great things off the field, obviously a great player on the field. I want him to present himself in the best possible way and make sure that he is reflecting on himself and his family in a positive way.”

    Goodell also thought Sherman’s actions took away from the Seahawks advancing to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Denver Broncos.

    “He took away a little bit from the team, that’s what he said yesterday, and I think that was a very interesting comment and I think that was fair,” Goodell said.

    Sherman said Wednesday his postgame comments Sunday were ”misdirected and immature” but he is not a villain or a thug.


    …which pretty well sums up an overblown incident that should have been a blip on the post-game radar. It’s the reaction to Sherman’s outburst that, clearly, merits our attention, IMO.

    And while we might like to think of ourselves as a civilized society…, from my perch in the cage, we’re not there yet. Not even close. And it isn’t guys like Richard Sherman who worry me.

  12. I suppose you’ve figured out that youth is wasted on the young….. Reminds me of the short story turned into a movie… The incredible case of Benjamin buttons….

  13. AY,

    Julia is the joy of my life. She is just fine. Now that I’ve moved I get to see her every day. We spend lots of time reading books, making puzzles, and building with Legos. She’s nearly two-and-a-half years old.

  14. Elaine,

    I am glad you’ll still be guest blogging as well as blogging here…. How is your granddaughter ….. Julia if I recall….

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