Richard Sherman’s post-game rant after the NFC Championship game has been a lesson in believability, apologies that carry no weight and a reminder that humility is difficult, but that it’s what God says He desires.
He reminds us of this in Matthew 23:12 and tells us what will happen if we don’t, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Like some of you, I was shocked and disappointed when Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, screamed into the microphone during a post-game interview just after Seattle beat the San Francisco 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.
Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews asked Sherman to take her through that final play of the game when Sherman tipped a pass that was intended for receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone, and Seattle intercepted to seal the victory.
“Well, I’m the best corner in the game!” Sherman screamed with his deep voice that seemed to be slowly going hoarse from the strain of yelling. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me!”
“Who was talking about you?” Andrews asked, somewhat perplexed.
“Crabtree! Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick!”
If this would have been an isolated incident, I would have still been shocked and disappointed, but I would have passed it off as adrenaline getting the best of someone and/or a player who didn’t care about sportsmanship, and then likely thought little about it.
But it wasn’t an isolated incident. Sherman is known for taunting players, from instigating a skirmish with the Washington Redskins to his infamous post-game rant toward New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
That incident is where my mind immediately went after watching his interview with Andrews. After the New England game, he ran up to Brady after Seattle won and began taunting Brady. Then Sherman taunted even more by tweeting a photo of him screaming at Brady with the phrase, “U MAD BRO?” written on the picture. Later, he went on Fox NFL Kickoff and laughed about it.
I also thought about the children who saw what he said after Seattle’s game against San Francisco and whether they were influenced to do the same. But then I thought about the parents who likely used it as a teaching moment about how not to act after winning and teaching them about humility and what God says about it: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Later, though, when I read that Sherman had apologized, I thought that he had had time to digest things and saw how wrong he had been (that’s what an apology is; someone realizes they were wrong, admits it and moves on).
He texted this apology to ESPN’s Ed Werder: “I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates … That was not my intent.”
He even wrote the following in a column on Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning QB website on Jan. 30 (he has been writing a column since July): “If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this: Don’t attack anybody. I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.”
But those were just words. Convenient, I guess, because of the firestorm he found himself in after the game.
How do I know that he still wants the attention and that his lesson to kids was as empty as a deflated football?
Because on his personal website he is still selling t-shirts with the phrases he uttered to attack people, “Don’t you ever talk about me” and “You mad bro?” and a copy of his signature and logo on each shirt, bringing attention to himself.
Humility doesn’t look like that. It looks like someone who Richard Sherman texted and wrote about (apologetic, sorry for a wrong committed, teaching lessons to children), but not what Richard Sherman is displaying by his past and current actions (his attacking rants and promoting and profiteering from what he said was wrong).
Humility isn’t just saying something, it’s putting into action what you say.
It’s difficult, but it’s required and desired by God.
This column was published in Sports Spectrum’s February 2014 DigiMag. Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. His column addresses topics from a biblical perspective. Follow him on Twitter-@Brett_Honeycutt.