You've heard the rant. Now, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has offered insight into his much-discussed postgame interview with Fox Sports' Erin Andrews, in which he excoriated San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.
In a first-person column for The MMQB, Sherman indicated that his dislike stems from an offseason outing in Arizona. Sherman claimed Crabtree said "something" to him but refused to divulge what was said—instead imploring the reader to "ask (Crabtree) about that."
Sherman also reiterated his stance that Crabtree doesn't deserve recognition among the game's best receivers, albeit in a slightly different tone than presented Sunday:
Erin Andrews interviewed me after the game and I yelled what was obvious: If you put a subpar player across from a great one, most of the time you’re going to get one result. As far as Crabtree being a top-20 NFL receiver, you’d have a hard time making that argument to me.
The All-Pro cornerback's column comes a day after his deflection of a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Crabtree landed in the hands of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, sealing Seattle's 23-17 victory in the NFC Championship Game. Only targeted twice on the day, Sherman taunted Crabtree immediately after the play, running up to him and offering a handshake—only to be shoved in the face.
Sherman then began grabbing his neck—the proverbial "choke" sign—and directing it at the 49ers sideline. While there was some speculation that he aimed the gesture at Jim Harbaugh, who coached the controversial corner at Stanford before landing in the NFL, Sherman has since clarified to make sure everyone knows he intended it for Kaepernick:
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.
All that said, none of those actions received even a third of the reaction of his interview with Andrews. The Fox Sports reporter, who tweeted a diplomatic take on the situation Sunday night, prepared for a standard postgame interview that instead became possibly the most famous of her career. Yelling while obviously in the heat of the moment, Sherman called Crabtree a "sorry" receiver and offered to shut his mouth if he spoke Sherman's name again.
The response, dispensed across social media platforms, ranged from amusing to deeply troubling. Some merely took advantage of the WWE promo-like atmosphere and had a little fun:
Richard Sherman be like... pic.twitter.com/aDg3EQFkmd— NFL Access (@NFL_Access) January 20, 2014
Other, more sinister reactions played on Sherman's race via a series of offensive epithets. Multiple outlets, including Deadspin, cobbled together the inexcusable actions in an attempt to both shame the parties and highlight just how far beyond the reaches of civility some will go. In his piece, Sherman seemed disappointed by the racism but took it in stride:
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.
Sherman referenced those people on his Twitter account later on Monday while also issuing an apology for his comments (via Ed Werder of ESPN):
Last night shows that racism is still alive and well... And that's so sad.... At Least some people respect MLKs dream— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2014
Seahawks CB @RSherman_25 tells me just now he regrets putting himself ahead of his team with postgame remarks: "I apologize for attacking ..— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) January 20, 2014
More @RSherman_25: "attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates. That was not my intent.''— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) January 20, 2014
As for Crabtree, his only response thus far has been to call Sherman a "TV guy," per Tom Pelissero of USA Today, and implore fans to watch the game tape:
To which, of course, Sherman almost instantly fired back with a solid sub-tweet of his own:
A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2014
Going back to the tape, we'll have to score this one in favor of Sherman. By a lot. The Seahawks corner might not have served a knockout blow to Crabtree alone—he finished with a respectable four catches for 52 yards—but Sherman forced Kaepernick to ignore his side of the field almost all game long, until Kaepernick didn't and suffered the dire consequences.
Now Sherman's Seahawks are two weeks away from facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' all-time great offense. While dismissive of Crabtree, Sherman expressed great respect for Denver's trio of receivers, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
Just a word of advice for all three: If Richard Sherman offers to shake your hand, do it. Or don't. The latter will be more entertaining for us.
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