January 21st, 2014
One Lawyer/Mother’s ‘Non-Opinion’ on Richard Sherman’s Interview
The day after the NFC championship I woke up to a world of highly opinionated sports enthusiasts giving their take on the public interview between Erin Andrews and Richard Sherman. I was browsing through my Facebook feed and realized that I had missed quite a controversial moment in sports history.
Upon reading my Facebook friends' posts, I realized that there was a huge divide in the way people took the Andrews/Sherman interview. Some of my friends had statuses calling Sherman a "thug", some called him "classless", and most of the statuses seemed to feel that his breathless rant was highly inappropriate. I did have some friends that were defending his actions and saying that he is not a thug but in fact a Stanford-educated man. Some said he was an emotional athlete who was just minutes removed from the adrenaline high of having made the biggest play in his career.
At this point, I began to find myself a little sorry that I had missed all of this excitement and this clearly important interview since so many people were taking the time to comment on it. Facebook is my only social media outlet. I am not on Twitter, and so I can't speak intelligently as to what comments were being tweeted there, but I imagine that it was a similar situation. I couldn't help but find myself curious to learn more. So... I turned to my husband, one of the biggest sports fans I know, a football coach himself, and someone who I knew personally watched the game. I said to him, "So what happened?"
He would never miss a chance to talk sports. So, he gave me the very intricately detailed play-by-play, down to the number of seconds remaining on the clock and the hand Sherman used to deflect the ball. He was telling me about some "exchange" between Sherman and Crabtree on the field after the play and I was trying to follow it all to help it make sense. After he was done, he then told me about his own comments on social media about the incident. Paraphrasing, it was something to the effect that in a big moment in Sherman's life, when he had an opportunity to thank God or his mother, he instead chose to use that moment to put down Crabtree.
This was coming from the mouth of a football coach, past football player and someone who always sees the good in everyone and every situation in life. Jamie is the first person to give someone another chance or simply say that people make mistakes. So at this point, I was even more intrigued by it all. This instance had caused my sports-obsessed, and football-loving husband to form an opinion and publicly comment on social media! What have I missed?
Unfortunately, I have to admit that my personality sometimes causes it to be very difficult for me to stay out of a good debate. I tried hard to just let it go. I mean, I didn't even watch the game. I didn't see the big play and I certainly hadn't witnessed the interview. Then I thought to myself, had I watched the game and the interview would it have even affected me that much to care and form an opinion? To be completely honest, probably not. But now, now that it is big social media news, I want an opinion (even if I keep it to myself).
Then, I did some research. It's amazing how fast you can learn things these days. Less than 24 hours after the game, I couldn't even type in the first three letters of Sherman's last name without Google and other search engines guessing that I wanted information regarding this highly debated interview. You could watch the clip of the game where he deflected the pass, the post- game interview with Erin Andrews, another interview with Sherman that took place over the phone (where Sherman seemed much calmer and level headed), and you could get footage of sportscasters commenting that this Sherman/Crabtree animosity all stemmed from a past off-season workout. You could get an enormous amount of information and hundreds of people's opinions with just three keystrokes!
I could have spent hours upon hours listening to what people thought about Sherman's actions, but what was more astounding to me was how heated and opinionated people were getting over this. I was amazed at how much press this football player was getting for a 30-second play followed by a 2-minute interview. I then came to my own revelation...
I couldn't spend any more time researching this and quite frankly I didn't want to form my own opinion on this anymore. Instead, I wanted to walk away with a lesson from it - a lesson for myself and a lesson for my children. Could it be that Richard Sherman is a hot-headed, classless, egotistical football-playing thug? Well, I suppose so. I mean, I never met the man, and have never seen him in any capacity other than as a successful professional football player. Which, let me add, by its very nature and rules of the game you are supposed to physically engage and bring to the ground another human being so that they don't score. So, maybe all of my friends' negative opinions of him had been in fact true.
On the other hand, could he have been a fine young man who was a stellar defensive cornerback, Stanford-educated and just highly emotional after the biggest play of his life? Well, I guess that is possible as well. I have never made the game-winning play and advanced to the Super Bowl - the biggest football event. (The game in which every little boy running around on the little league football field envisions himself playing in some day, usually only in the capacity of a dream, yet this had become Sherman's reality, and I'm guessing was a past dream of his own.)
Could he have had a vendetta with Crabtree as a result of something in the past that none of us know about and for whatever reason he felt that he had to prove himself better than his opponent? Did he feel inferior and, thus, his harsh words that came out as vanity really were disguising some insecurity he had felt? Sadly, I guess that is possible as well. Personally, I can think of moments where my own reaction to someone or something was highly unwarranted, but it was a reaction to my own insecurity or a feeling that I had to impress someone or prove myself. It's possible that even at what could have been one of the biggest and best moments of his life, that he felt that he had to defend himself or some proposition that had internally been haunting him. And that makes me sad for him.
And, yes, it's true we would all like to think that if we were famous or rich and had the social media span and the attention received by public figures (be it professional athletes, movie stars, etc.) that we would conduct ourselves with much more class and tact, and that we would use media outlets for the good and not the bad. Maybe, we would do as my husband suggested and thank God for giving us such tremendous talent and such an amazing opportunity.
I no longer needed an opinion because it seemed like each and every other person's opinion could be possible and plausible. BUT...
But, what we sometimes forget is that these public figures (these immensely talented athletes) are in fact human. They have problems of their own. They have past quarrels with friends, enemies, and competitors. They have bad days too. And they certainly make mistakes. What I learned from it all is that we need to make the most of our great opportunities. Sometimes we make bad choices. Sometimes all that it takes is a second to change people's opinions of us. After all, look at how fast Sherman went from the best cornerback in the league, making an awesome game-winning play, someone that every little boy watching admired, to someone who many thought lacked class and control over his emotions and someone many mothers wanted their little boys to no longer idolize? Minutes. It took minutes.
I honestly do not have an opinion as to what I think of that interview. But I do know that I want my children to know that you can go from hero to villain in minutes. I want them to know that what you do in today's world can instantaneously be put on social media for the world to see and to form their own opinions about you. I want them to know that you only get one chance to make a first impression- so make it good. I want them to know that you can't recover the word after it's spoken. People will judge you no matter who you are. I want them to be kind because everyone is fighting a battle that they know nothing about. I want them to know that everyone makes mistakes, and undoubtedly, they will too. But that learning from their mistakes is what really matters.