Almost immediately after a last-minute play that sent the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl, Richard Sherman gave an adrenaline-fueled post-game interview with Erin Andrews of Fox Sports. The African American cornerback had just been mushed in the head by San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree and was none too pleased.
Sherman: 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: Who was talking about you?
Sherman: Crabtree! Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick! L.O.B.!
Sherman and Crabtree have a long-standing beef with each other, which Sherman explained in a piece for the Sports Illustrated Web site mmqb.si.com. But the dreadlocked footballer also put his boisterous rejoinder into context.
I ran over to Crabtree to shake his hand but he ignored me. I patted him, stuck out my hand and said, “Good game, good game.” That’s when he shoved my face, and that’s when I went off. . . .
It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. . . . To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field — don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.
Ever since his shout-out seen ’round the world, Sherman has been called a thug and worse. Addressing this part of the controversy, the Super Bowl-bound 24-year-old made an observation that was incredibly astute. “The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays,” he said.
Many expressed horror about the poor, blond white woman who had to endure his tirade. Here’s what Andrews told Elle magazine she was thinking at that moment. “It wasn’t ‘Oh man, what is he saying?’ or ‘I’m scared of him’,” she said. “It was more or less, ‘My follow up question better be dead on because if I don’t do this right I’m going to be criticized or crucified’.”
So, what does Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) have to do with all this? His caught-on-tape confrontation with Michael Scotto was the very definition of thuggishness. Scotto, a political reporter for NY1, ended his on-air interview with Grimm about the State of the Union address by asking the two-term congressman about the continuing investigation into the fundraising for his 2010 campaign.
Grimm: Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.
Scotto: Why? I just wanted to ask you. . . .
Grimm: If you ever do that to me again. . . .
Scotto: Why? Why? It’s a valid question.
Grimm: No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.
Grimm’s office last night released a statement to the Huffington Post. “I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests,” he said. “I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor.”
“What’s the definition of a thug? Really?” asked Sherman last week.
Is it a football player who talks smack about an adversary on television after a come-from-behind victory that sends him and his team to the championship? Or is it a member of Congress who directly threatens a reporter with physical violence for doing his job? There is only one right answer.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj