Credit: Seattle Seahawks
The most talked about moment from the Seahawks’ 23-15 win over the San Francisco 49ers was Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s 26-second post-game response to Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews’ first question.
“The final play: take me through it,” she asks a celebratory Sherman, about his game-saving slap of the ball away from the hands of 49ers receiver, Michael Crabtree.
“I’m the best corner in the game,” boasts Sherman. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get…Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”
Shall we unpack this display of vanity and braggadocio for what it says about Sherman, about pro football, about Andrews, about sportscasting? We should start by thanking Sherman — or at least his id — for the blurt of honesty, rarely witnessed in the witless post-game interview ritual. We hardly ever encounter an athlete’s naked need to brag verbally, but we see it visually on the field all the time, in the Neanderthalic interludes of chest-beating, hip-swinging swagger that follow a routine tackle. Spectacles of self-congratulatory awesomeness have reached a ludicrous level in the sport, and Sherman’s revealing toot of his own horn might induce coaches to add lessons in sportsmanship to the pre-season practice sessions. Although I doubt it.
As for Andrews, she had this to say: “Athletes don’t do that. They’re usually composed…that’s why we grab them right after games because we hope they lose their minds like that…we don’t want a watered-down version of him.”
Oh, really? Then why did Andrews appear so flustered, even unnerved, by Sherman’s adrenaline-laced gloat? And was she ordered to cut the interview short due to the network’s concern that Sherman might fire off an expletive, or because such a raw display of preening was a tad too real and ugly for the slick, corporatized broadcast clichés of the NFL?
As a fair weather fan of pro football, I often find myself defending my favorite sport (pro basketball) against accusations of thuggery, the racist-tinged attack on the players’ gloating, cheap shots and in-your-face taunting. But I suspect this charge stems from the fact that basketball is played on a much more intimate stage, with fewer players under searing lights, wearing nothing but shorts and tank-tops. Football players have it easy. They hide their self-regard beneath padded armor, helmets and facemasks, essentially faceless in the scrum of 22 players, until one of them blows his cover in a post-game interview.
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