Don’t Be an Asshole: The Ballad of Richard Sherman


Sherman looking particularly dignified.

If Richard Sherman’s controversial post-game interview didn’t make you laugh out loud you just don’t get it.

It’s all a lot simpler than the people arguing about it think it is. Richard Sherman is an asshole and proved it long before the interview incident. Regardless, most of the perspectives on what he did are pretty weak, from those defending him to those who are calling it disgraceful.

His character can easily by judged by watching this video of him mic’d up for the Seahawks game against the Vikings. Beginning around 1:35 all he does is mock and demean Cordarrell Patterson and especially mild-mannered Joe Webb, who fights back impressively. His comments aren’t usual trash talk, at least I’d hope, but are childish personal jabs. He tells Patterson that he’s weak and needs to ‘lift more’ and goes on and on about how bored he is covering Webb and repeatedly calls him a waste of his time.

The funniest part about that is earlier in the game Sherman got burned on a touchdown reception Christian Ponder threw to Jarius Wright. The reason he was covering Joe Webb, probably last on the Vikings’ wide receiver depth chart, is because he wasn’t good enough to cover their other receivers. When considering how mediocre the Vikings’ receiving core was this year that’s a pretty big insult.

The only reason this latest incident is getting so much attention is because it was in an interview after a big game. But disrespect is disrespect. What he said to Webb and Patterson was far worse than the ridiculous, humorous rant that he went on about how great he is.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

God this guy is awesome. Whoever he is.

The entire context of the incident also needs to be considered. The Seahawks had just won a hard-fought game in dramatic fashion. Each side was doing a lot of trash talking. His emotions were high and how physical and arrogant the 49ers were added to this.

So in a moment of high emotion he did something stupid. Anybody who has ever done that – and that pretty much means every single person – has no business saying how disgraceful Sherman’s actions were. People will, though, because it’s easier to point out what’s wrong with others than it is to look at yourself.

Those defending Sherman are also missing the point. What he did still wasn’t right. If he wasn’t such an asshole in the first place, and if he was mature enough to keep his emotions in check, he wouldn’t have done something so stupid, period.

Finally, this entire thing is bringing up the argument about whether athletes are role models. I cringe to think there are kids who saw the interview and thought it was the coolest thing ever and that it shows how an athlete is supposed to act. At the same time it’s also a teaching tool. It’s especially easy when considering the Seahawks, because their quarterback Russell Wilson is probably the most upstanding man in football. There will always be Shermans and there will always be Wilsons, but it takes good role models in kid’s lives to teach them which is the better way.

As often happens, those on both sides are missing the point. Defenders of Sherman can’t even admit the obvious fact that what he did was wrong. Those who think what he did was disgraceful are hypocrites because they’ve all said and done stupid things when emotions are high. Most of them also get off on talking down to those who make mistakes because it makes them feel like they’re above that person.

What Sherman did, ultimately, is a teaching tool, both for kids and for adults. The lesson is simple: don’t be an asshole.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rico Lopez on January 21, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I agree with everything you said, also a good thing to look into is the video of the Redskins player who punches Sherman in the face before the game even starts!! I have only seen a 25 second clip and there is no inciting incident but last time I checked players don’t just go around punching players such as you said Wilson or Brady. As I discussed with Erik earlier the situation for me personally had nothing to do with race, any professional athlete, or frankly anyone, who proclaims “they are the best” is just ignorant. The best players don’t need to say it because numbers speak for themselves!


  2. Thanks for posting this article! Sherman doesn’t deserve to be in The NFL. He’s a public embarrassment to The NFL, it’s fans and former NFL players that played the game with class.


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