Sherman Breath of Fresh Air for Sportswriters

By Don Wade

I have waited for San Antonio point guard Tony Parker to take a shower, dress, whip a winter scarf around his neck and then say something so boring that my tape recorder yawned.

I have waited for his coach, Gregg Popovich, to emerge from his locker-room laboratory and do little more than grunt at reasonable questions. Ever try to put a grunt in a quote? It goes something like this: “Defense-grrrufff,” Popovich said.

I have waited for Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook to put in his earrings. Which, in and of itself, threw me completely off my game. I mean, do I ask about his shooting … or his shopping?

I have waited for the entirety of the Chicago Bulls to check their Twitter accounts. And then collectively offer up a cool 140 characters worth of analysis.

Point is, I spend a lot of my evenings at FedExForum doing the “post-game interview.” Most of the time it feels like panning for gold in the Wolf River.

And yes, this is going where you think it is going. I’m about to defend Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Not as a fan. Obviously not as a player or a coach. But as a sportswriter.

And if this makes Skip Bayless mad, so much the better.

Sherman’s comments after the NFC Championship game were, well, rich. Not particularly smart (more on that in a moment), but they were golden.

For all the trash-talking that happens on NFL fields and NBA courts, we are privy to very little of it. When reporters get to the locker room the best smack of the day has been sanitized.

Even if players want to vent, say about obviously bad calls, they can’t because then the league in question gets in their pockets. I’ve stood in front of Marc Gasol’s locker on more than one occasion after a poorly officiated game that either cost the Grizzlies a win or almost did and listened to him play diplomat as he smiled and shook his head.

Who could blame him? Why give up tens of thousands of dollars because you said something as benign as “the officiating really stunk tonight.”

All of which takes us back to Sherman. No doubt you’ve seen the on-field clip where he’s shouting about the greatness of himself and the mediocrity of 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. Perhaps you’ve also seen footage from the post-game press conference where Sherman continued this theme, an unspoken but hardly subtle challenge floating out there for Peyton Manning, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and the rest of the Denver Broncos in the upcoming Super Bowl:

Go ahead, you try me, too, dare ya.

That’s the not-so-smart part of Sherman’s rant. Of course, it doesn’t make me love it any less. On the contrary, I’m all for pitting Sherman against Manning and his receivers. Great fun.

Now, I didn’t care for Sherman giving San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick the choke sign. Or Sherman’s condescending pat on Crabtree’s backside after Sherman’s pass deflection set up the game-winning interception. Truthfully, they were cringe moments.

Hardly befitting a Stanford graduate, which Sherman is, or his reputation as a good guy who is active in the community. Seattle sportswriters, no less, have stuck up for him on that score.

In any case, when Sherman started talking for the microphones he was speaking in the language of fresh air.

So excuse me while I ask a purely selfish question:

Hey, Richard, how’s your jump shot?

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.