By Annie Moore
“I’m the greatest of all time!” Something we’ve heard more than a couple of times from more than a couple of athletes. So why all of the fuss about Richard Sherman?
For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the past few days and haven’t heard, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gave a very controversial postgame interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews after the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game Sunday Night.
“I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the results you’re going to get,” Sherman shouted “Don’t you ever talk about me! Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick.”
So what drove a man who just won a huge game to give such a hostile interview? A graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Communications presented himself so inarticulately and was an instant sensation. Whether people hated it, were amused by it, loved his bravado or deplored it, everyone had heard it and had something to say about it. But why?
Muhammad Ali proclaimed “I am the greatest” at the height of his boxing career and the response was nothing like this past Sunday Nights’. Why? I believe the answer is two-fold.
First off, Sherman attacked a fellow athlete, a professional, respected by many in the league. Yes, Sherman beat Crabtree on that particular play, but that does not entitle him to be berated by a colleague on national television. And he certainly didn’t need to be called mediocre, multiple times by Sherman even after his initial interview.
But the biggest reason I believe that Sherman’s comments prompted such an uproar, and Ali’s didn’t, is because boxing isn’t a team sport.
In what was a great team win for the Seattle Seahawks, Richard Sherman manages to make it all about himself. And that is what offended not only the fans, but surely his teammates.
No one cared when Ali alienated everyone else in the sport, because it was his and only his to defend. But when you play a game like football, where success is dependent on many men doing their jobs, to brag and credit yourself and your superiority as the key to the team’s success is not only short-sided, but it is selfish and alienates the rest of the team.
Sports fans and athletes alike, love the camaraderie of sport. The teamwork and cooperation used by the greatest teams is a large part of what attracts us to them, as much if not more than the talent and bravado of the athletes themselves. That’s why when Muhammad Ali steps out and says “I’m the greatest of all time” we eat it up. But when Richard Sherman says it, we lose our appetite.