And honestly, I wish there were more like him.
In 2014, nothing is that real. Or not much, anyway. The world we live in now is all about appearances, about image, and mostly it’s about what you should not, or cannot, say without repercussions.
For anyone over thirty, I imagine it’s taken you some time to get used to . I know that has been the case for me. We grew up in a time where people had allot more freedom to say and do whatever they wanted (within certain limits, of course), stupid as it may have been. Some of us grew up with friends or neighbors with openly racist (or homophobic) opinions who suffered nothing worse than a reputation as such. We had athletes, entertainers and celebrities who were granted the chance to actually have un-popular or dissenting opinions without fear of being censored , censured or being removed from their current employ. Right or wrong, it still felt a good deal more “free” than the climate we live in now. In these times, not much may have changed with regard to racial or sexual tolerance, but the people have learned that voicing their opinions can only get them in trouble, so those with enough sense know enough to just shut their mouths and keep it moving. Somewhere along the line we went from wanting to teach and enlighten people in the ways of tolerance or understanding, to actually enforcing those ideals people, whether they like it or not. If someone should step out of line, they stand to lose so much more than their reputation, thus everyone just does what they can to toe the line. Says something ignorant about the gays? Issue an apology and donate some money to something and pray it goes away? Get drunk and throw a racial slur around in public? Throw yourself at the publics mercy and pretend to be remorseful and they just might let you slide. You need not be sincere so much as you must appear to. It’s all about perception, not reality.
Where am I going with this? Well, believe it or don’t, this all folds into a simple point.
In 2014, we all live in a world full of fakes.
It’s maddening, really. In the Sports context, it means we’re overrun with poseurs. Fake tough guys, like Kendrick Perkins or Kevin Garnett. Fake crazy people, like Dennis Rodman or Brian Wilson. Fake bad guys, like Chael Sonnen or Floyd Mayweather. Much like politics or any other walk of life, the smarter among us have learned that whatever image you manage to project matters more than the reality, and if you can get the people to by what you are selling, the ends justify the means.
That’s why Richard Sherman is so fucking life affirming. So vital. So needed.
In this age of platitudes, of Jesus shout outs and “we’re just blessed to be here” and every other well-worn cliche and avatar of false humility, here’s a guy who supremely talented, immensely articulate, impossibly intelligent and best of all, and this the key, almost totally real. As a professional athlete, he’s 100% balls to the wall. In a profession where plenty of guys are basically collecting checks or coasting through on talent, Sherman is out there to win or die trying, in the figurative sense. He’s fired up enough to do this.
That interview may be many things, from vain to immature to a little ridiculous, but it’s also entirely genuine. That counts for allot these days. The guy was tested, he rose to the occasion and now he wants to bask in the glory of it all. He couldn’t give a damn if he scared the shit out of Erin Andrews or not, he’s earned this fucking moment and he’s gonna have it. Whether you like it or not, it’s an honest moment from on an honest athlete.
Now, this may simply be a matter of preference, but I’ll take cocky any day of the week if it is a) genuine, and b) justified. I’ll take a guy beating his chest and loudly proclaiming himself the best if he in fact is the best. Let’s be real here. If you were the best at anything, exactly how humble would you be? Face it, whether you like him or not, whether or not you can even stand the guy, you’d take him on your team in a minute. If you wanna win, that is. I mean, let’s forget all the bullshit parables about morality and character, especially in a sport that employs Richie Incognito and Pac Man Jones and Ben Roethlisberger. This is Football., after all.
Richard Sherman has earned the right to call himself the best. Richard Sherman, not possessed of incredible athletic ability but rather of an unfailing work ethic, has worked his ass off to become what he is. On the field, he’s good enough to shut down the other teams’ best receiver. Off of it, he’s intelligent and witty enough to hand Skip Bayless his ass on national TV, and boy don’t we all owe him a little gratitude for that? Richard Sherman is a 25 year old athlete from the inner city who earned a degree from Stanford University, made it to the absolute top of his profession despite being a late round draft pick, and has stayed on the right side of the law his entire life. In all honestly, his largest transgression in the eyes of the public is hisextreme braggadocio. Richard Sherman should, on these merits alone, be held up as a shining example of what you should aspire to be, of what is possible. Best of all, Richard Sherman is who he is with no apologies.
That’s as real as it gets in 2014, and that ain’t a bad thing.