I sat down and watched two football games yesterday for the first time in a couple of years. It was sort of like seeing your ex-wife for coffee. For 30 years of my life, Sunday afternoons in the Fall were the best time of the year. But given the NFL's tangled, and frankly indefensible, sense of morality, I left. Tom Brady and Peyton are like old friends, the last stars of my generation entering the twilight years of their career. I watched the Broncos win, and then I turned to see the real treat—Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks.
Sherman is the best cornerback in football and loves to explain this, as he did to Erin Andrews last night after the game. There's some amount of consternation, and broad sense that Sherman is crazy. But Sherman isn't crazy, as Tommy Tomilson explains over at Forbes:
8. If you stick a microphone in a football player’s face seconds after he made a huge play to send his team to the Super Bowl, you shouldn’t be surprised if he’s a little amped up.
9. Ninety-nine percent of on-field interviews are boring and useless. The TV networks do them anyway for the 1 percent of the time they get a moment like Richard Sherman.
10. As a reporter and writer, that raw emotion — whatever form it takes — is exactly what I hope for. That’s why media people fight for access to locker rooms. After players and coaches cool off, most of them turn into Crash Davis, reading from the book of cliches.
11. But we — the media, and fans in general — don’t know what we want. We rip athletes for giving us boring quotes. But if they say what they actually feel, we rip them for spouting off or showing a lack of class.
12. It’s like we want them to be thinking, Well, that was a fine contest, and jolly good that we won. Which NO athlete is EVER thinking.
Much of what makes pro football so attractive is embodied in Sherman. There's the pure athletics of the play he made at the game. But behind there's the intelligence which Sherman employs on the field and off. It's worth checking out this video, where Sherman gives you some sense of how he prepares for game day (H/T Deadspin.) And then there's the raw emotion which you saw on display last night. You watch an NFL game and there's a sense that the total individual is competing in the ultimate team game. It remains a beautiful—and endangered—thing.
As a side-note, it's worth checking out Sherman's dismantling of Skip Bayless in the video above, "Skip, whenever you ever you address me, address me as 'All-Pro, Stanford Graduate.'"
There's something very English and debonair about it:
I'm intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are an ignorant, pompous, egotistical cretin ... I am going to crush you on here in front of everybody because I am tired of hearing about it.
Anyway, it was good to see the ex-wife again. It was also good to remember why I left.