Richard Sherman’s “crime” is that he didn’t kill anyone

While football fans were fixated on Sherman’s postgame antics, another event involving a football player was transpiring in Dallas, one that should have registered much higher on the outrage scale. Dallas Cowboys’ player Josh Brent was on trial for killing his teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown, on December 8, 2012.

KobritzsmIf you weren’t familiar with Sherman prior to the NFL conference championship games last weekend, you certainly are now.  He’s the Seattle Seahawks’ all-league defensive back who made the game saving play – tipping away San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s last second pass – that catapulted the Seahawks into this week’s Super Bowl.  In a post game interview with FOX, Sherman responded to Erin Andrews’ initial question with what can best be described as an 18-second rant.

The upshot of Sherman’s comments is that he is the best cornerback in the game – hardly a secret to the experts who judge such things – and the 49ers intended receiver on the play, Michael Crabtree, is a “sorry receiver.”  Sherman went on to say that if Crabtree opened his mouth again, he (Sherman) would “shut it for you real quick.”  The trash talking prompted immediate outrage from the media and fans, many of whom took to social media to condemn Sherman in less than flattering terms, many of which contained racist overtones.  Never mind that Crabtree precipitated Sherman’s comments by doing his own trash talking before and during the game, albeit not on camera for dissemination to the masses.

Sherman’s postgame rant was merely an extension of the same emotion that is required to play the physical, sometimes violent game of football.  What was also lost in the initial criticism of Sherman is that he has a reputation for being a team-first player, someone who is not only skilled in his trade but, unlike the majority of his contemporaries, has a degree in communications from Stanford.  Forget the dreadlocks.  Sherman is an intelligent and articulate young man who has earned a pass for allowing the emotions of the moment to detract from his and his team’s accomplishments.   Sherman later apologized for the latter, along with a “choke” gesture he made following his outstanding play and preceding his on-air comments.  The league fined Sherman $7,875 for the gesture.

While football fans were fixated on Sherman’s postgame antics, another event involving a football player was transpiring in Dallas, one that should have registered much higher on the outrage scale.  Dallas Cowboys’ player Josh Brent was on trial for killing his teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown, on December 8, 2012.  Brent was driving drunk and lost control of his Mercedes while traveling at speeds upwards of 134 miles per hour.  Brent’s blood alcohol level shortly after the crash – forget the word accident; this was no such thing – was .18, more than twice the legal limit.  Testimony in the case indicated that the 320-pound Brent had consumed the equivalent of 17 drinks during a night of partying on the town.  The jury convicted Brent of intoxication manslaughter and on Friday sentenced him to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation.

This wasn’t the first time Brent had engaged in such reckless conduct, although, thankfully, without similarly tragic results.  He pled guilty to DUI in 2009 while a member of the University of Illinois football team, where Brown was also Brent’s teammate.  And while out on bond awaiting trial for the murder of his friend – with friends like Josh, who needs enemies? – Brent failed two drug tests.  The monitoring device he was fitted with also registered four anomalies.  And yet, the jury felt six months in jail was sufficient punishment for his crime.

Two football players, one killed another man, the other made a game-saving play and then trash talked about it on TV.  The former, one of the thousands of drunk drivers who kill and maim tens-of-thousands of innocent victims each and every year, was given a slap on the wrist and will become a footnote in history.  The other created a national furor and was accused of unsportsmanlike conduct, labeled a “thug” and threatened with his life.

Where is the outrage against Brent’s unconscionable actions?  Why haven’t the media and football fans publicized his callous disregard for life and property?  Where is the twittersphere when we need it?

Unfortunately for Sherman, he merely spoke his mind.  For that, he will be remembered for eternity.  Had he committed a crime, he would have faded from memory quicker than you can say “drunk driver.”

Jordan Kobritz is a former attorney, CPA, and Minor League Baseball team owner.  He is a Professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog: http://sportsbeyondthelines.com  Jordan can be reached at jordan.kobritz@cortland.edu.

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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