If you weren’t reminded of WWE wrestler Booker T during Richard Sherman’s postgame rant following the Seattle Seahawks NFC championship win, you probably didn’t like professional wrestling as much as I did growing up.
Sherman unleashed a violent, yet somewhat harmless, vocal tirade directed at Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers in an interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews.
My first reaction was uncontrollable laughter. I enjoy witnessing raw emotion in its purest form. That doesn’t mean I think network television should broadcast graphic content—and this case isn’t an example of that—but as I sat in the newsroom where I work, my day became a little brighter.
One of the most intriguing characters in the NFL was granted approximately 20 seconds to voice his beef with Crabtree, and a part of me expected to hear Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music interrupt the brief conversation.
The result of Sherman’s amped-up sound bite was a myriad of social media junkies either sharing their disgust or their admiration for Sherman.
Media outlets across the nation chimed in, and the interminable classy-classless debate gained steam.
In my opinion, there isn’t a side that’s correct. I know I’ve rambled about the ethical values I feel professional’s should strive to embody, but my initial thoughts have hardly changed.
Sherman shouldn’t have taken the spotlight away from his teammates that bled with him every day in practice to earn this moment, nor should he have denigrated a member of his community after defeating his team.
But, to use an old cliché, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. I can’t judge him for that and neither should you.
You may be all about the “integrity” of the game—which would be more apparent if the NFL issued more strict, timely drug testing—or you might be frustrated with his poor sportsmanship.
If you do feel like mocking a supremely gifted athlete who is one of the best players at his position in the world, maybe you should ask yourself, ‘when have I expressed emotion openly and free?’ ‘Have I ever yelled as loud as I could when I was angry, or simply because it was the only way to share my happiness?’
I’m guessing the answer is likely yes. While I refuse to take a stand and say it was good or bad for the game, I will say that I found it entertaining.
My love of professional wrestling was rekindled, even if it was just for a moment. I felt like a giddy kid, reenacting royal rumbles with my brothers in our basement, only pausing for an important quote that might reveal more of the plot or identity of the individuals involved.
And for that, I thank Richard Sherman. I know wrestling’s fake (sort of) and that Roger Goodell would laugh much harder than I did if anyone ever told him ‘we should be more like the WWE,’ but part of why I enjoy sports is because they allow me to escape the cruel, unfair world we live in.
Even more so, I write about sports because I’ve seen their capability to inspire, teach and offer opportunities to people that would never even sniff them outside of the arena.
Take our hero/villain in question, Sherman. The guy grew up in Compton, Calif. He went to Stanford. He went from, as the immortal Tupac would say, “the citay of Compton” to one of the most prestigious institutions in the western world. He now owns a charity that focuses on giving adolescents in his hometown the opportunities that he was lucky enough to receive.
So before we label the philanthropist a thug, or whatever stereotypical insult we’re urged to throw his way, let’s remember why we’re even watching.
Chances are, like me, you want to be entertained. You might loathe professional wrestling and its theatrical antics, but there’s something about the magic of the gridiron that captivates you.
So try to sit back, enjoy it and check your judgmental mentality (a universal trait, one that I am certainly guilty of as I write this) at the door along with whatever else might take away from the unique experience.