Sports fans are hypocrites. They want a true glimpse of the action – or at least as close as they can get from their couch – but recoil in disgust when they see a side of the game they don’t like.
That’s what happened when most of the country met Richard Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, shortly after a pulsating NFC championship game victory against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night.
Sherman used a 30-second or so interview with Fox’s sideline reporter Erin Andrews to make a few points: 1. He’s the best in the business at stopping receivers; 2. The 49ers’ Michael Crabtree is mediocre by NFL standards; and 3. Should they meet again, punches are likely to be exchanged.
So shocking was the exchange, it took a replay or two to soak it all in. What was that? What did he say?
In fairness, the scorching nature of Sherman’s response was worse than what was actually said. During the interview – or was it a tirade? - he seemed to bob and weave like a boxer as he started menacingly into the camera as if it where the enemy.
What was this dramatic scene all about?
What fans saw was an interview with an athlete in a moment charged with the fast flow of adrenaline. Ask questions at that moment, and expect an unfiltered response.
Sherman had just made a great play against Crabtree, a player who the Seattle corner felt had slighted him earlier in the year. As long as big-play athletes are greeted with a microphone moments after a game-winning play, expect the unexpected.
Some sporting events impose a 10-minute cooling off period before serving up players for interviews. That delay serves its purpose. Sherman could be a textbook example of the wisdom of that policy.