There’s two reasons why we watch sports – drama and humor. I remember the time I watched John Elway’s legendary helicopter spin to give Denver a critical first down against Green Bay. I’d never taken the NFL seriously before that, but the sight of a 37-year old John Elway putting his health on the line like that sucked me in. There’s been a lot of great NFL moments since then – and a lot of boring moments too. He may be a genius, but I’ve got a real grudge against Bill Belicheck for turning the postgame and pregame interviews into a droning recital of meaningless clichés (It is what it is, blech).
Anyway, I’m still hoarse this morning from screaming after that NFC championship game between the 49ers and the Seahawks. That was a great contest between two very evenly matched teams, where it really came down to the final play – and it felt like the 49ers, driving effortlessly against the most feared defense in the NFL, had it in their hands. Then, the tipped pass by Sherman in the endzone on a fade route to Crabtree.
That game had it all – drama, strategy, everything you’d ever want. And the crazy postgame interview with Richard Sherman? “I’m better at life than you” Richard Sherman? Eyes bugging out, spittle flying, venting raw emotion all over a deer-in-the-headlights Erin Andrews? Classic Mean Gene. I mean, it was epic – after spending the previous five minutes jumping up and down and screaming, now I was laughing until I choked. Watching it, I knew it was a classic – right alongside the Elway game. You can say it was classless, and that he was being a bad winner – both are true. But if you watched that game, and understood how violent and emotional that ending was – and then have a microphone thrust in your face – it makes perfect sense.
Everyone is piling on Richard Sherman today, because that’s the media. But I remember thinking at the time, this is what sports is about. It’s a game, and it’s supposed to be fun. He’ll take a beating this week and be cast as the bad guy … but from my standpoint, thanks for keeping it real.