The self-proclaimed best cornerback—best player?—in the game cut one of the greatest postgame promos you will ever see in his brief but memorable interview with Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews after his Seattle Seahawks came from behind to beat the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night in the NFC Championship Game.
"Well, I'm the best corner in the game," a vociferous Sherman told Andrews.
Can't really argue there, as he has proven that he is one of the best at that position in quite some time. Plus, the guy did just come up with an amazing game-saving play to seal the victory—and a spot in the Super Bowl—for his team.
"When you try me with a sorry receiver like [Michael] Crabtree," Sherman continued, "that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me."
Hey now! That's pretty specific, Richard. Maybe you want to take a page out of the Peyton Manning Presents: Always Be a Gracious Winner book (now available in paperback and e-book). Andrews handled herself like a true pro as the spit and accusations came flying from Sherman.
"Who was talking about you?" she coolly asked, realizing Sherman was giving her a career moment no one will soon forget.
"Crabtree," Sherman replied, with a look like Andrews wasn't paying attention to his previous outburst. "Don't you talk about the best, or I'm going to shut it for you real quick."
OK, then...back to you, Joe.
Twitter burned up with instant reaction to Sherman's outburst, on the heels of his ungracious interaction with Crabtree on the field after Seattle's interception in the end zone. Many people admonished the All-Pro for being a poor sport, a bad winner and generally classless.
WOW Sherman is a douche .... He's good .... But I remember when TY Hilton dominated you— Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) January 20, 2014
After watching that game, and witnessing for the third time this year just how much these two teams genuinely hate each other, I kind of loved the moment.
I'm sorry, but hearing one of the best players in the game call out a guy he just beat to get to his first Super Bowl is awesome.
It's oddly refreshing to hear Sherman be so brutally honest. Who wants to hear magnanimous saccharine quotes from a guy who is more concerned with being politically correct or worried about his endorsement deals to share his actual thoughts?
Sherman hates Crabtree, and now, we all get to relive this moment twice a year for as long as they both play in the NFC West.
As a football fan, this is high theater.
There's a little context, too. On the Thursday leading up to the NFC championship, reporters asked Crabtree about facing Sherman, and having to deal with a game full of trash talk the entire night. He responded this way, per 49ers.com:
It's competition. If you're playing to that level and you're talking to the level you're playing, it's cool. But if you're just out there talking, and you're not really doing [anything] on the field, that's when you get irritated. Guys just chirping and not really doing anything. At the end of the day, it's football; you're going to do your job and he better do his job.
That was a good, solid answer. As a follow-up, reporters asked Crabtree if Sherman is the best corner in the league. That answer was not as good, nor as solid. As least not the way Sherman saw it.
"No, I don't think so," the receiver said. "I don’t know nothing about the best cornerbacks in the league. I just know the teams."
Crabtree then avoided a follow-up question about Sherman to say, "you have to study the whole defense, it's not one guy."
After the game, Sherman gave a little more context:
Richard Sherman said Michael Crabtree said something to him this offseason in Arizona. "He knows what he said."— Danny 710ESPNSeattle (@BrocknDanny) January 20, 2014
And Crabtree had plenty to say after the game, too:
This is great for the sport, on both sides.
Sherman surely used Crabtree's quotes as motivation in the game, and the last play in Seattle's victory had to go beyond a team moment for him, delving into some weird, angry, personal place where Sherman keeps quotes like that locked away, from which to draw inspiration.
After the play, there was jawing. With Sherman, there is always jawing. Crabtree didn't care for it, given the circumstances of realizing his team just lost the NFC championship, and pushed Sherman in the face. Sherman, in his gloating glory, had patted the receiver on the rear before mimicking a choking sign to the crowd.
All of that was a bit unnecessary, for sure, and it came with a personal foul penalty against the defensive star. With the game all over aside from the kneeling, the penalty was meaningless.
Was the choke sign for Harbaugh? Sherman: "No, that was for Kaepernick." Kaboom.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 20, 2014
The interview, however, was not meaningless.
Let's put this in perspective one more time for those who seem to somehow still be personally offended by Sherman's outburst.
This was seconds after the game ended. Andrews nabbed a sideline interview with Sherman after he made the play of the game just moments earlier and caught him in a sea of emotion. Some players cry. Some yell about how great God is or how amazing their teammates are or how anything is possible. Sherman took it out on Crabtree.
Was it classless? Sure, of course it was classless. But Crabtree isn't a kid in the schoolyard being picked on by a bully. Crabtree doesn't need a million sportswriters to call out Sherman for his disrespectful actions when that's the kind of stuff that makes those interviews worth doing. That's the only reason those postgame interviews are worth doing. Someone might say or do something extraordinary.
Most of those postgame interviews are horrible. Sherman's brash honesty gave us a moment we can remember, and if it makes him a villain to some, so freaking what?
We need good guys and bad guys in sports. We need rivalries like we used to have in the old days, when it seemed more rivals genuinely hated each other on and off the field.
"kill him! maim him! rip his head off!!...now please keep your voice down and speak to us calmly"— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) January 20, 2014
I don’t mind if guys today shake hands after a game and joke around with each other—I get some of them are friends and they're all part of a millionaires club most of us will never be able to join. But a sport as violent and angry and passionate as the NFL needs teams—and players—that don't like each other.
Sherman was still riding high from the play of his career. He just got his team to the Super Bowl and he gave Andrews, and the viewers, his raw emotion.
I hope more players start doing what Sherman did. Sure, it was rude. Yes, it was brash. And indeed, it was totally disrespectful to Crabtree. But it was awesome, too.