Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Chop At The Tree

It takes a lot to turn Michael Crabtree into a sympathetic figure. Richard Sherman succeeded.

It takes a lot to turn a guy who rose from the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles to play his final season at Stanford while working on his master's degree into a classless jerk. Richard Sherman succeeded at that too.

Well, maybe. Maybe not. Depends on what passes for acceptable behavior to you these days.

In case you missed it, and there's no way you did, it appears that Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback, isn't exactly a huge fan of Crabtree, the 49ers wide receiver. And he made that opinion fairly clear in his interview with Fox's Erin Andrews shortly after the Seahawks closed out the 49ers 23-17 to win the NFC championship last night.

To give a little context, Crabtree apparently said that he didn't think Sherman was the best cornerback in football, a comment he made last summer, by the way.

And so there was the end of the game, Niners driving for the potential winning score and a spot in the Super Bowl. Colin Kaepernick underthrew Crabtree in the back corner of the end zone, and Sherman made a nice play - hardly a great play - to tip the ball away. It happened to float right to Seattle's Malcolm Smith, who clutched it to essentially end the game.

By the way, who made the decision in the TV truck to cut away from Sherman, who ran right at Crabtree in the middle of the end zone to provoke some sort of confrontation - or, giving him the benefit of the doubt, to shake his hand - and go to the Seattle bench, where people were predictably happy. 

Anyway, once Seattle completed the third of its kneeldowns, it was off to the field, where Andrews was with Sherman. Asking the typical insert-herself-into-the-situation question of "take me (with the vastly overrated Andrews, it's ME ME ME ME ME) through the last play," Sherman launched into his tirade about how he was the best corner in the NFL and Crabtree was a sorry receiver and why try him with a sorry receiver and all the rest of it.

Fox, perhaps understanding how far over her head Andrews was at that moment, went back to the broadcast booth quickly. Sherman never backed away even after he calmed down, later calling Crabtree "mediocre" and saying that he wasn't among the 20 best receivers in the game and that it was "insane" to go to him in a spot like that.

Way later, after Crabtree pointed out that Sherman didn't really do much else in the game, Sherman tweeted this: "A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep."

Once upon a time, sportsmanship was a very real thing in sports. Players were concerned about getting a reputation of being classless, something to be avoided at all costs.

And now? It's the opposite. The idea is to be as outrageous as possible. Talk as much trash as possible, even when "trash" is a synonym for "garbage."

In the context of the world TigerBlog grew up in, what Sherman did yesterday would have been unheard of. In today's world, it's not even all that stunning. In fact, on its face, it's even funny.

Between now and when the Super Bowl kicks off Feb. 2 about an hour north of Princeton, TB senses you'll have had your fill of Richard Sherman. If he had to guess, TB would also say that Sherman will also get burned at a key moment in the big game by Peyton Manning.

It just seems to be how it always works.

TigerBlog hates what's become of civility and dignity in this country. There are just too many examples in sports and entertainment of the me-first, narcissistic mentality that is fostered by athletes and especially reality TV stars.

At least Sherman is a skilled athlete. The average reality star brings nothing of substance to the table.

But what do they take off of it? Well, it's harder and harder to get kids to buy into the notion of self-control, of class, of understanding what behavior should be acceptable and what behavior traditionally has been reprehensible, only to be embraced today by so many.

That's why the Sherman thing bothers TB. You want to go on TV and act like an idiot, fine. But it's just one more chop at the tree, and eventually it will completely fall, if it hasn't already. And how many kids were watching him say those things who thought it was 1) funny and 2) something they should emulate?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's the only federal holiday in the United States of America that is named for a specific person. Martin Luther King Jr. was the face of the civil rights movement, and he believed in non-violent civil disobedience to change centuries-old ways of doing things.

When TB thinks of the civil rights movement, he thinks of John Doar, a Princeton basketball player in the 1940s who went on to have a huge impact on the changes that swept this country in his role as a lawyer with the Justice Department in the 1950s and 1960s. And by role, TB means a real hands-on, risk-your-life role.

Doar is a man of great modesty and dignity, and he has never talked about himself as having done anything special, even as he accepted awards like the Presential Medal of Freedom and the NCAA's Inspiration Award.

Today, there are too few people who follow that path. Too few, but they're out there.

Actually, they're around here too.

Princeton Athletics, and Ivy League Athletics, and much of college athletics is filled with classy people, coaches and athletes who compete hard and rejoice in winning and struggle with losing and do all of this without ever becoming jerks.

Sure, there are examples where lines are crossed, but in TB's time watching Ivy sports in particular, that's really, really rare. Maybe that's why he's stayed here so long. He couldn't take a steady diet of what he sees on TV.

So Richard Sherman, congrats on being the latest to take a swing at the tree. Don't worry. Princeton has one more week of exams and then games will start again.

It gives TB hope.


bigalpapa said...


Anonymous said...

Biggest joke of a blog I have ever seen. You don't think MLK would be proud of a man who graduated from one of the finest institutions in the world with a 3.8 GPA? Or one who rose to the very top of his field while constantly proving his doubters wrong. Classic blog post written from TBs high high horse just a shame.

Norton Cutler said...

As a double Stanford grad I would still point out that he was completely classless and an embarassment to the university.
Smart and successful, but a jerk nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I also think Sherman acted without class. Not to take away from his past accomplishments but the lack of sportsmanship at that moment was not something I enjoyed watching. That's a shame. High horse? Since when is believing in sportsmanship a bad thing. I'd like to think that he (Sherman) feels the same way and would do it differently if he had a "do over". Maybe the moment just got the best of him. He is human...