Thought experiment: What if a Minnesota star acted as Richard Sherman?
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In polarizing sports debates, I don't often find it constructive to pick sides. I'm not for or against Peyton Manning's 'Omaha,' as an example, although I'm starting to think I could do without the ancillary attention it receives.
I'm picking Team Richard Sherman in the fallout from the dominating cornerback's postgame antics and subsequent TV interview, closely following the play of his life.
How would Minnesota sports fans if one of their star athletes acted in such a way?
Would they be cheered for the bravado? Or chided for the temerity?
First I'll make some blanket assumptions, certain to be partially untrue: Seattle Seahawks fans loved the taunting; greater Seattle residents without a rooting interest were slightly embarrassed by the showboating.
We Minnesota sports observers love some panache, but often not at the cost of humility.
I ran this theory by a dozen co-workers Monday, with mixed responses.
The most common response was to consider Randy Moss. When he was a belligerent superstar, fans accepted his baggage and cheered his antagonistic antics when he feigned dropping trou in front of the Green Bay crowd. But his act wore thin when he wasn't productive.
A handful of other examples exist, but none in today's current Minnesota sports scene. The stars in this town include a handful of athletes who would rather deflect attention than demand it.
In no order: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Josh Harding, Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins, Adrian Peterson, Harrison Smith, Kyle Rudolph, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus. All are stars that, but for constant interview requests, don't often spend considerable time talking about themselves. Kevin Love is perhaps the most prominent example of a Minnesota star who is also an attention seeker, and he doesn't rise to prima donna level of diva status.
The biggest offense Sherman committed Sunday occurred when approached wide receiver Michael Crabtree after the play, slapped him on the butt and offered what I can only assume was a condescending congratulatory handshake. Beyond that, the postgame comments don't bother me. We may, at times, expect too much from our athletes: Do whatever you have to do to psych yourself up for an important game; make the play that will vault your team to the Super Bowl; quickly cool down and give and eloquent, if cliché-filled, on-camera sound bite.
By acting sophomoric, he deflected attention from his sophomore quarterback. No matter how much damage control he does in the coming days, Sherman has assured that no Seattle player will have more media attention on media day than him. One reader pointed out that now, instead of Peyton Manning v. Russell Wilson, the Super Bowl slant will pit Manning against The Great, Intelligent Trash Talker.
So some people want to defend Sherman's actions, others prefer to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl, or more accurately, this crowd prefers to root against Sherman's team. Seahawks fans, however, seem to be behind their All-Pro.
Which leads to my point, 500 words later. Would Minnesota fans support such a blatant example of showboating?
If Joe Mauer ripped a walk-off home run, admired it as it sailed through the night sky and into the Target Plaza in right field, blew a kiss to the pitcher as he flipped his bat 10 feet in the air and walked around the bases with his fists clenched and arms extended above his head...
The whole image seems absurd. Perhaps Mauer is an extreme example.
Tell me, Minnesota sports fans, would you support a local sports star violating the unwritten sportsmanship code, or do you prefer humility?