Richard Sherman is a fun football player to watch. And he’s an engaging speaker, often offering opinions and perspective few NFL players offer. Some of which are interesting, some of which are simply intended to stir the pot of conversation.
He plays the role of villain to anyone who’s not a Seahawks fan and pulls on the heartstrings of his passionate fan base with artful grace.
And he went to Stanford, so plenty of people assume that means he’s smart.
And he speaks with swelling authority, so people assume that means he’s right.
But I don’t care where someone went to college or the powerful oration of their words, I just consider the logic they use and the quality of evidence they present.
It seems to me few critically analyze the logic Sherman uses or the quality of evidence he presents, somehow when he speaks, people neglect to question the young man and just accept his words as gospel.
This past week Sherman and teammate Doug Baldwin used their media availability to offer an awkward skit that was a thinly veiled critique of the NFL; it’s media policies, stance on player safety and sponsor relations.
Members of the media, who love to corral emotional support behind anyone who is controversial, thus leading to more cotton-candy, eye-catching headlines in Internet coverage, called the skit “brilliant,” “hilarious,” “awesome” and the like. In fact, even 49er safety Eric Reid concluded Sherman’s skit was “awesome” and that what he said was “all true.”
I love Reid as a football player, but he is wrong, and if you think Sherman’s skit was accurate, you are as well.
Let’s start with the first point of contention is Sherman’s presser: Marshawn Lynch was fined $100,000 for not speaking to the media. Sherman pointed to the idea that the NFL wouldn’t pay Lynch $100,000 FOR speaking, yet fined him for silence. We then heard Doug Baldwin say that was hypocritical.
Consider this: Lynch is paid on average $468,750 per game. While he’s paid to be part of a football team, every NFL player’s contract includes protocol for speaking to the media. It’s like requiring a lawyer to keep up with bar dues, like an accountant required to pursue continued education. It’s part of the gig. Some enjoy it, some don’t, but it’s part of the contract signed when someone signs up for that profession.
Same deal with media relations and the NFL, or any sport for that matter. Teams and the NFL have extensive trainings any player can avail themselves of should they feel uncomfortable with that part of the job, therefore it really should be one of the easier parts of the job.
Perhaps Lynch didn’t read his contract and doesn’t know that or doesn’t understand that signing a contract binds a person to the entirety of that contract, but Sherman’s argument doesn’t hold water. Lynch was paid more than 4X the $100,000 fine that week, and one of his responsibilities to earn that money was to speak to the media.
Also lost in the shuffle is the fact the six-figure sum was due the NFL waiving a $50,000 fine from last year and warned Lynch that if he continued to shirk his media responsibility, last year’s leniency would double this year’s consequences.
Basic stuff. Not hypocrisy. It’s called individual responsibility.
Next, Sherman pointed to the NFL’s policy that he can’t promote Beats By Dre who pay him individually.
Fact is, Sherman can be featured as part of the commercials, wear Beats to special events and other functions, but can’t wear them basically on game day while NFL cameras are around, mainly because the NFL has an exclusive deal with Bose, a rival of Beats.
And Sherman is taking exception to that? Beats pays him, and “a lot of money”, not the NFL, to promote the headphones, why should the NFL allow him to use their platform to support a competing brand? That’s not sound business logic. And without the revenue sharing across the league, there’s a strong likelihood that a small market team like the Seahawks couldn’t afford to give Sherman one of the richest contracts in the league. So the NFL’s savvy business logic helped Richard Sherman make more money than almost any other player at his position.
But Baldwin said it was hypocritical. It’s not. It’s called business. And it’s smart.
Then Sherman, thinking he’s being smart, dropped the name of his other sponsors, including Campbell soup, and said his “girl” was sick and she got some Campbell in her, then he said, “So kids, if you get sick, get some Campbell soup in you… very healthy…”
Really? So that monosodium glutamate and ferrous sulfate is the key to kicking a cold. Rad. Or could it be the 35% of your daily sodium intake in one serving that really does the trick?
Healthy? Not a chance.
Hypocritical? Not really, it’s called being a pitch man.
But the problem is, Sherman mocked the NFL for hypocrisy in conflicting messaging and asserted the NFL’s overt capitalism, yet he used highly inaccurate statements for the purpose of fattening his wallet and dropped some conflicting messaging as well.
The most incredible statement and one that most of the media kiss Sherman’s butt over, in fact, one writer for Yahoo Sports! said it’d be tough for the NFL to defend, was that the Seahawks played 2 games in 5 days. They had the bout with the Cardinals at home Sunday, then the Niners in San Francisco the following Thursday.
In the skit, Baldwin lobbed the alley asking “How do you feel about playing 2 games in 5 days?” Sherman followed with the oop: He said, “They’ve been talking about players safety so much, but 2 games in 5 days doesn’t seem like you really care about players safety…”
So if there was only 1 game every 3 weeks would the game be safer for the players? Fewer busted knees or blasted Achilles? Or could Sherman ask the NHL, an equally hard-hitting sport, how they play 82-game seasons?
Fact is, most players are not concussed in an average football game and while there are rigors involved in any football game, there is no evidence that playing 2 games in 5 days increases injury or comprises player safety as the team has more of a break before their next game and only play that schedule once a year. It might not be ideal, but it's hardly hypocrisy. The NFL has invested tens of millions of dollars in updating protocol to enhance player safety, but it's still an inexact science, still a very fluid situation.
And, now, Sherman has 9 days until the next game.
You have to wonder if he’s going to thank anyone for the extra time off in his next press conference.
I don’t have a problem with Sherman opining and offering his perspective. It’s unique, at times hilarious, other times introspective and accurate.
The problem is no one is challenging him on the premise that are illogical or factually inaccurate. Instead, most in the media just appreciate the money he makes them by having headline-grabbing sound bites and they don’t want to upset the apple cart by being the one person to critically think.