Sherman corners media market with postgame rant

Posted: January 22, 2014

IF YOU start counting at noon today, there are 17,670 minutes remaining before the kickoff to Super Bowl XLVIII, give or take a few seconds. At the current rate of declarations, explanations and insinuations, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will have typed, tweeted or talked 72,476 words - some inflammatory - by the time he lines up for the first time against one of Denver's talented receivers.

OK, that last number was more of a guess than an actual calculation, but it is just as likely an underestimation as it is an exaggeration. Unless you are living in Vancouver or Calgary and are thus today debating the sportsmanship and sanity of a hockey coach rather than a defensive back (more on that later), you are aware that Sherman has not stopped talking, typing or tweeting since he flicked a pass away from Michael Crabtree's hands Sunday night.

He quickly followed that flick with a brief, one-way conversation directed at Crabtree and a two-handed choke sign directed at San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But neither of these actions made Sherman a notorious national lightning rod. Old fans have come to expect such postplay antics. Some young fans have come to embrace them.

What nobody expected was what followed. Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews put a microphone in front of Sherman and off he went.

"I'm the best corner in the game,'' he screamed at the camera. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's what you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me! Don't you open your mouth about the best! Or I am going to shut it for you real quick! LOB [Legion of Boom] . . . "

At that point some skittish or smart Fox director - again, your view on that is an age and perhaps cultural reflection - cut the one-man Legion of Boom off, triggering a social-media outburst that Sherman quickly joined. My 20-something sons loved all of it. I would have been OK with it too if not for the taunts that preceded it.

Sherman was all over the map explaining it all afterwards in his blog for Sports Illustrated, claiming he was slighted by Crabtree at a party last year, or by some innocuous quote . . . It sounded like rationalization, an attempt to salvage any marketability he might still have. The guy is a great player. He went to Stanford. With a Super Bowl victory, the world could have been his oyster in 2 weeks.

"I don't want to be a villain, because I'm not a villainous person.''

As Bill Parcells once said, you are what your record says you are.

Which brings me to that hockey coach in Canada, a familiar face to fans of the Flyers and HBO's "24/7.'' While Sherman was captivating America with his play and postgame, Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella was buzzing The Great White North with his coaching moves and coaching, um, acumen?

Seems Torts was a bit twisted over Calgary coach Bob Hartley's decision to begin the game with a "goon'' line. Torts responded with his own set of meat cleavers, and the pregame line brawl was on. After an appropriate amount of punches had been thrown (and mostly missed), players from both sides disengaged and filled both penalty boxes, at least until the eight game misconducts were announced.

After 152 penalty minutes were doled out, the hockey game began in earnest. Except that Torts was still taut, and when the period ended he tried to worm his way through a hallway crowded with Calgary players and get to Hartley. The effort was as comical as it was disingenuous - if he really wanted at 'em, he could have waited for the Flames to enter the locker room and then made his play for the coach. But then the 5-8 Tortorella, who has been suspended 15 days, might have actually had to fight.

Instead we got the same unhealthy dose of postgame debate that Sherman initiated, some contending Hartley was to blame, some contending Tortorella was to blame, and a lot of hockey fans trying to explain the mentality of hockey fights to those who do not follow the sport closely. On a night like Saturday, the explanations made about as much sense as Sherman did.

The explanation, in a nutshell, goes like this: Without fighting, players would cheap-shot each other, causing injuries worse than black eyes and bloody lips.

Which leads, finally, to the suddenly loquacious Bill Belichick, and his oddly engaging 26-minute press conference yesterday morning. No, that's not a misprint. The guy spoke in complete sentences and expressed heartfelt thoughts, even talked about how "awesome" it was to coach with his son this season.

But all that will be lost because of his unprompted opening remarks, in which he accused Denver's Wes Welker of deliberately injuring New England corner Aqib Talib with a pick block in the second quarter Sunday, calling it, "One of the worst plays I've seen.''

Belichick also called for the NFL to discipline Welker, a former Patriot who left via free agency, at least partly due to a deteriorating relationship with his former coach. Was this sincere? Or had a feud morphed into a vendetta?

What the league does or doesn't do will tell us. In the meantime, though, can we all just take a deep breath, shut down the laptops, tabs and smartphones for a few minutes, and just try to get along?

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