Richard Sherman, Stanford communications major and internet lightning rod because of a Fox Sports interview with Erin Andrews on Sunday, explained in an essay that he is “not a villainous person.”

A day after his big play on Michael Crabtree helped boost the Seattle Seahawks over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, Sherman wrote in his weekly column about the origin of the bad blood with Crabtree and described the criticism he’s taken since the game ended. He was, he admitted, “thrilled and proud and upset, all at once” after the game.

“It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am,” he wrote of the Andrews interview. “I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person. When I say I’m the best cornerback in football, it’s with a caveat: There isn’t a great defensive backfield in the NFL that doesn’t have a great front seven. Everything begins with pressure up front, and that’s what we get from our pass rushers every Sunday. 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.
“But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it.”

After tipping a pass intended for Crabtree in the endzone into the hands of the Seahawks’ Malcolm Smith, Sherman ran after Crabtree and then made a choke sign, drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. He writes:

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.
I threw a choking sign at 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Why? Because he decided he was going to try the guy he was avoiding all game, because, I don’t know, he’s probably not paying attention for the game-winning play. C’mon, you’re better than that.

Sherman, writing that “I just don’t like him,” confirmed that an offseason incident is at the heart of the feud. According to Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times, Crabtree tried to start a fight as Sherman attempted to shake his hand at a charity event hosted by Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Sherman’s brother Branton told Brewer that Sherman vowed, “I’m going to make a play and embarrass him.”

Crabtree, in a postgame press conference, wasn’t “getting into that. He knows what time it is. We’re on the field and he ain’t doing nothing,” he said. “That’s one play he made. … That’s probably the only play he made the whole game.”

In fairness to Sherman, it was the play, the play that put the Seahawks in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos by sealing the 23-17 victory. Crabtree continue to make his case on Twitter.