Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, one of the NFL’s more outspoken players, made a brilliant, game-saving play at the end of Seattle’s 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game. Then he saved the postgame interview from its usual pablum.
A night of football celebration, for sure.
With 30 seconds left, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had driven the ball down to Seattle’s 18-yard line. Kaepernick dropped back on a first-down play, and lobbed a pass toward San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone. Sherman, the best cover corner in the NFL, was blanketing Crabtree. Niners fans will have all off-season to wonder why Kaepernick decided to throw the ball near Sherman, whom he was smartly avoiding all day, on a first down.
Sherman jumped and tipped the ball to teammate Malcolm Smith in the end zone. Smith cradled the interception that sent Seattle to New Jersey, where the Seahawks will play the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2.
Sherman and Crabtree, apparently, had been jawing all game. Trash talk counts as normal conversation between NFL wide receivers and defensive backs. Sherman, one football’s more active yappers, had just made the play of his life, in front of Seattle’s notably supercharged fans, to end an emotionally draining game. So of course he got in Crabtree’s face to say a few words. Crabtree pushed Sherman’s helmet. Sherman made the choke signal, which was a little unfortunate. (After the game, Sherman said the choke sign was for Kaepernick.) But again, Crabtree had just snuffed him, and Sherman was caught up in the moment.
When Fox’s Erin Andrews interviewed Sherman on the field after the final whistle, he hadn’t come down from his high. Andrews asked Sherman to take her through the final play. Viewers expected the usual blabber. Instead, they got a good ol’ rant. “Well, I’m the best corner in the game!” Sherman shouted. Andrews gave a quick “O.K. then” expression. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get!” He was looking right at the camera. “Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Sherman was breathing heavily, like a boxer. “Who was talking about you?” Andrews asked. This may seem like an obvious question, but it got Sherman to keep going. Andrews handled herself like a pro here.
“Crabtree! Don’t you open your mouth about the best! Or I’m going to shut it for you real quick! LOB!”
LOB, apparently, refers to the “Legion of Boom,” the nickname of Seattle’s secondary, which is the best in football. On first listen, it sounded like Sherman may have screamed “L.L. Bean!” Sherman does not have an endorsement contract with the Maine-based outdoor-clothing retailer.
Check out the exchange here:
The shouting shocked a mass audience. We’re used to jocks thanking God in that spot. So social media offered the usual hand-wringing: Sherman is a classless, ignorant (he’s a Stanford grad) punk.
Well, if you hate Sherman for being honest in his interview, you can never complain about a cliché-ridden sideline chat again. And it’s not like he cussed in front of a bunch of kids or threatened to hurt anyone. Sherman is a fiery guy, his tip was one of the most memorable defensive plays in NFL history, the Super Bowl is a lifelong dream — and the game can fatten your bank account. Plus, football breeds pathological thinking on the field. Who can blame Sherman for going off, moments after the victory?
Don’t you open your mouth about the best.