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Sherman- Deserves Benefit of the Doubt

By NATE GRIFFIN, SportsRadio 610
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HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – So talented and so brash is Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman. So brash that on Sunday night following Seattle’s NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49er’s, he was called all kinds of defensive names on twitter and other social media sites the day before Dr. Martin L. King’s birthday was officially celebrated.

All sorts of responses came from the public/viewing audience following the biggest play of the game made by Sherman in the end zone versus San Francisco 49er’s wide receiver Michael Crabtree which prevented the go-ahead touchdown and a possible one-point win for the 49ers.

Instead, because of that dazzling play, it was the Seahawks who prevailed 23-17, and who will face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

It was a heck of a play. Sherman had to locate the ball, get position, and finally prevent Crabtree from getting his grips on the football – a play that will go down as one of the best ever considering the moment. The moment is primarily the focus of this article.

Please allow me to pose a couple of questions. At exactly what time were those vile comments about Richard Sherman posted on most social media sites, more specifically twitter? Even if you weren’t one of those who responded on twitter, what was your initial reaction?

IT’S LIVE TV

Before you respond, let’s replay the moment. It’s first and ten at the Seattle 18-yard line with only 30 seconds remaining in a game that was nail-biting dramatic, fierce, not for the faint of heart intimidating, and unimaginably physical. Seattle led San Francisco, 23-17. That would have been the game winning drive for the Forty-Niners.

The play begins simultaneously with the clock upon the snap of the ball after the Niners had called the first of their three timeouts to determine a play. San Francisco 49er QB Colin Kaepernick receives the snap and locates his intended target. Knowing that Crabtree is covered by the talented, brash, and highly-volatile Sherman, without thinking twice, he steps into his motion and fires a laser intended for Michael Crabtree to the upper right corner of the end zone .

Problem! Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was in position and deflected the pass from Crabtree into the waiting arms of linebacker Malcolm Smith while falling backwards to the turf. Smith falls to the turf in the end zone. Ballgame! That was a magnificent and historical play by Sherman. But, what ensued following the play is where it all took the wrong turn.

Sherman confronted Crabtree, patted him on the rear and basically taunted him as the two were leaving the field heading to their respective sidelines. Crabtree responded like most would in the heat of the moment by shoving Sherman’s facemask. Sherman then throws up two hands in amazement as though he’s waiting for the refs to throw a flag for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. They did – but the flag went against Sherman for taunting. It was highly unlikely for the refs to flag Crabtree under the circumstances.

That play took eight seconds off the clock and allowed Wilson and the Seahawks to take 3 kneel-downs while San Francisco used their remaining 2 timeouts before finally having to face the reality of losing the highly-contested match. Seattle wins and advances to the Super Bowl with a 23-17 victory.

TYPICAL PROTOCOL

There’s a need to infuse procedure in this article for fairness to all parties involved and for those who might not be privy to typical protocol following MOST athletic events, college and pro. The NFL has a mandated ten-minute-cooling-off-period for teams, coaches and players, prior to talking with the media.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of instant gratification, rush to be first, and social media breaking news alerts, etc., the protocols put in place years ago for the media networks that televise these events “live” no longer exist. And of course, everyone has an opinion on social media.

CAPTURE THE MOMENT

The old adage be careful what you ask for because you just might get it fits perfectly in this situation. If you haven’t seen the interview between Erin Andrews of Fox and Richard Sherman, just click and the link will take you there.

Immediately following what will go down as one of the best championship games ever, Fox decided to put sideline reporter Erin Andrews in the position of having to interview a highly-volitale Richard Sherman who had just made a game-saving play, but who hadn’t been given the standard ten-minute cooling off period prior to facing AMERICA.

That was a big moment for the Seahawks, the NFL, fans of the NFL who had been treated to a historic contest, his family, but most importantly, Richard Sherman. He had a chance to capture America’s heart and their imaginations. Don’t know if he captured hearts but he certainly captured ratings. He also captured those on the social media path as he is still a highly trending topic.

While he could have exercised better judgment in his use of the national platform, I won’t totally berate his actions for several reasons.

OTHERS SHOULD ACCEPT BLAME  

Might be unpopular but Sherman is not the only one to blame for what many see as a post-game fail. What happened to the NFL mandated ten-minute cooling off period. Sherman wasn’t afforded that opportunity. He was immediately asked to be interviewed.

The Stanford Alum from Compton who earned his undergraduate degree in three years and who is currently working towards his Master’s Degree should have known better than to respond in such a manner. In fact, on Monday, Sherman did offer an apology to Crabtree for his actions.

“I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates … That was not my intent,” Sherman said Monday in a text message to ESPN’s Ed Werder.

But, time was not offered. Besides, an interview like that is good for ratings which the networks love anyway. Sherman also apologized for the response during the interview with ESPN Radio on the “SVP and Russillo” show.

“Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently,” he said during the interview. “But it is what it is now, and people’s reactions are what they are.”

While Erin Andrews was gracious, professional, and handled the situation as best she could, those in decision-making positions had to know they were rolling the dice. That is the exact reason for the ten-minute cooling-off-period.

As for the social media aspect, more specifically twitter, please allow me to pose these questions. How long did it take for twitter responses to ignite your timeline from that interview? Were those responses immediately following the interview? Or, were those responses 10 minutes after the interview?  Do you think those responses would have been different, less lethal, less personal, less racial in tone, had they been tweeted 10 minutes after the interview? I’m leaning more towards a yes answer!

EXERCISE CAUTION

Richard Sherman is a heck of a football player. Right now, he is the best cover corner in the National Football League, hands down. However, when seeking a post-game interview following a win or loss, it might be wise to exercise some caution on what players to interview and when following a heated contest as the one America witnessed on Sunday night, January 14th, 2014.

This incident touches our social conscience more than it positively reinforces our love of football. Unfortunately, we still live with racism in this country which is a sad commentary in 2014. When and where does it end?

While there are those now looking for a Denver Broncos win in the Super Bowl, what’s the agenda? Do you want to see Peyton Manning win his second Super Bowl ring, possibly retire, and leave the game as a bigger than life legend? Or, do you want Seattle to lose because of Richard Sherman’s actions following the big play during the NFC Championship game and the post-game interview? While there has to be a winner and a loser, will there be total disregard for the Seahawks?

Speaking of players all disagreed with Sherman’s actions but would still have him as a teammate. In fact, after querying six former NFL players including former Houston Oiler’s safety Bubba McDowell and Houston Texans defensive tackle Travis Johnson, all said they would. While little imagination is needed on this quote, it was Travis Johnson, who was totally honest in his assessment.

“Nobody likes the arrogant a__ h___  from another team – only the one on theirs.”

That’s something to be considered moving forward by all involved with a live television event. Sherman is the player. As we have stated throughout this article, he should have known better. That is why the ten-minute cooling off period was mandated by the NFL.

For the sake of the NFL, its players, the viewing audience, and our twitter timelines, please exercise it.

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