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Updated: January 20th, 2014 5:42pm
How does Richard Sherman's reaction compare to Mike Zimmer's cursing?

How does Richard Sherman's reaction compare to Mike Zimmer's cursing?

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1500ESPN.com

By: Scott Korzenowski

Twitter can be a marvelous, if unscientific, tool. I found the overwhelmingly negative reaction on Twitter to Richard Sherman's post-game rampage to be curious.

For some reason, many people vilified Sherman for his rant, while many people, especially here in Minnesota, largely praised new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer for his profane and blunt comments on HBO's "Hard Knocks" and his well-publicized profane and blunt comments to the press after his then boss, Bobby Petrino, quit as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

I suggested Sunday on Twitter that perhaps the difference in overall reactions was because one was black and one was white.



I've been on Twitter for a few years, have fewer than 1,000 followers, and usually get mild reactions to my tweets. But this time was different. The reaction from most was negative, which was fine. The reaction from several was vicious, which was instructive.

People said I was playing the "race card," which, I can only assume, means I was bringing up race where I should not have been. Others simply called me a moron, or, in most cases, far worse, without any substantive counter.

We just celebrated Martin Luther King Day, and many folks seem to believe that our country's struggles with race are behind us, especially in sports where blacks are prevalent on the field, on the sidelines and in the media.

But as a long-time observer of sports, I do not agree.

I have no problem with folks who thought Richard Sherman acted without class. Like many of you, I don't like players employing the choking signal, and I'm not a huge fan of trash talking.

But I also had no problem with Sherman's post-game interview with Erin Andrews.

Only minutes before, Richard Sherman was backpedaling in the end zone with the spiraling football sinking out of the sky and the entire Seattle Seahawks season on the line. If Sherman doesn't knock that ball away, Crabtree grabs it and Sherman is the goat; If Sherman knocks it away, he's the hero. It was, quite simply, the biggest couple of seconds of his long career.

So what does Richard Sherman say?

"Well, I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get! Don't you EVER talk about me."

Andrews asks: "Who was talking about you?"

Sherman answers: "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best. Or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick. L-O-B." (I later found out that L-O-B is a nickname for Seattle's defense, "Legion of Boom.")

Richard Sherman didn't swear during his rampage (unlike Zimmer). He didn't call his target a name (unlike Zimmer), and he even directly answered Andrews' follow-up question.

So why the over-the-top negative reaction?

It is my theory that it was because of the way Sherman looked while delivering the message. Here is a very large black man with dreadlocks and an intense expression screaming an answer that really wasn't that remarkable if you think about it. So Sherman believes he is a better corner than Crabtree is a receiver. Everybody believes that, even the 49ers, who would have tested Sherman more than the small handful of times they did on Sunday if they believed otherwise.

No, it was his appearance and obvious rage.

Even I fell victim to the underlying stereotype of a large black man with dreadlocks screaming when I assumed Richard Sherman was not the type of guy who, but for his athletic ability, could have attended Stanford.


Shortly after I tweeted: "And Richard Sherman went to Stanford! Hmmmm, now I see why it has a good FB program", I was ashamed to learn that Sherman not only deserved to attend Stanford academically (he finished second in his high-school class with a 4.2 GPA), he thrived in Stanford academically. Sherman graduated with a degree in communications after four years, and, because Stanford red-shirted him one year following knee surgery, Sherman went back for a fifth year and began studying for his Masters degree.

Sure, Richard Sherman is a loudmouth, a trash talker, and one helluva football player. He's also a college graduate and relentless worker, which means he has a lot in common with that other loudmouth, trash talking, college graduate and relentless worker that soon will be roaming the Vikings sideline.

The next time Richard Sherman opens his mouth, though, it would help if we all remembered that.

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