Perception is Important

Within moments of making the biggest play of his young professional career, preserving a hard-fought and well-deserved win for the Seattle Seahawks and sending them to the Super Bowl – Richard Sherman is caught on camera making a choke sign and then during post-game interviews refers to a San Francisco 49er receiver as “sorry” and “mediocre at best” and basically rips the 49ers quarterback for throwing the ball to the man he was covering. CBS not knowing where the first interview was heading quickly terminated the interview.

Sherman’s comments have triggered a largely hate reaction on all forms of social media and he has been sharply criticized on mainstream media. He has been called a thug with no class, and some have gone so far as to say that he has ruined sports. I admit that I am “old school” and I do not like trash talking. I was always taught to let your play do your talking for you. However, this reaction and the criticism that Sherman is experiencing is way out of line.

First, the comments were made within moments of the end of the game while Sherman was still clearly affected by the emotion and the importance of his play and the game. Second, he does not curse, he does not say anything about the 49er receiver’s personal life, he does not call the receiver a bad person, a bad son, or a bad father – he simply calls the 49er receiver a “mediocre” football player. I personally do not believe that anyone who plays in the NFL is a mediocre player, but maybe if I played at that level I would recognize mediocre football players. Apparently people who are making these comments are not aware that the 49er receiver had made, at least in Sherman’s mind, the same comments about Sherman prior to the game. More importantly, the people making these remarks about Sherman do not know anything about him.

Richard Sherman grew up in Watts until he was 14 years old, then the family moved to the “better” area of Compton. Richard Sherman’s father drives a garbage truck, to this day getting up at 4:00 every morning for work. His mother works with disabled children for the County of Los Angeles. Although they enjoy their son’s success in sports, they instilled in Richard the importance of an education. Richard finished second in his class academically in high school with a 4.1 GPA. He attended and graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications and was an Academic All-American football player.

Upon signing a pro contract, he founded the Richard Sherman Family Foundation, which he appropriately named “Blanket Coverage”, whose goal is to ensure that as many children as possible are provided with proper school supplies and adequate clothing. Through his foundation, Sherman has worked with children’s hospitals, the Salvation Army, as well as many other local, charitable institutions.

Yet people want to judge Sherman for comments made while he was clearly still in the emotional context of the game and really added up to nothing more than his opinion as to the abilities of a 49er receiver. Something that is done every day by the so-called experts on talk radio, ESPN, and the pre-game shows on CBS and FOX.

It seems that the reaction to Sherman’s comments say more about us than they say about him. How does that tie into what I do for a living? That “us” are the people who sit on the juries who decide the fate of you or your loved ones who are charged with committing crimes. Think about it!

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