Dave Zirin for The Nation, on the Seahawks’ cornerback speaking his mind:
James Baldwin once said that America was a country devoted to the death of the paradox. We want our jocks to be jocks, our poets to be poets, our ditch diggers to be ditch diggers and our black athletes from Compton to not have the ability to call out the dominant culture on its own hypocritical bullshit. Richard Sherman is that paradox. But unlike the athletic paradoxes of the past, he is also acutely aware of the ways in which twenty-first-century media are attempting to put him in that box and kill his paradox. Richard Sherman has the ability to use words as weapons and spit arguments as easily as he spits insults. That makes him interesting. That makes him provocative. That makes him dangerous. And Beats by Dre aside, that makes him difficult as hell to brand.
For many people watching the Super Bowl, the game will come down to whether you root for Peyton Manning, the Broncos quarterback, or Richard Sherman. For many people that will mean “Peyton good” and “Sherman bad.” For many people, like John McCain, that means rooting for Peyton to shut up the “loudmouth.” If you’re going to root against the Seahawks and Richard Sherman, by all means do so. But please root against them for the right reasons, not so Richard Sherman gets some kind of lip-buttoning comeuppance. Whether you like the Broncos or Seahawks, you should hope for the greater good that Richard Sherman never shuts up.
It’s work like this that makes Zirin one of my favorite sportswriters.
The majority of my Niner fan friends called Sherman a “clown” for his postgame interview rant, but it didn’t bother me one bit. If anything, Sherman sound bites are a helluva lot more entertaining that your typical, boring-and-intelluctually-vapid-as-shit interviews with athletes. Most times, players give the same cliched responses — Sherman, on the other hand, gives the total antithesis. It’s refreshing.