The Seattle Seahawks had just beaten the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. Century Link Field was littered with fans, media, and confetti, all in response to the historic victory. While such a scene is chaotic, its also usually relatively routine in terms of player behavior. Kind words about the vanquished opponent are shared. The victorious team retires to a champagne drenched clubhouse. The beaten team slinks to the airport for a long flight home.
Such was not the case Sunday evening. Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman, never short on words, had the following to say to FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews:
"I'm the best corner in the game, When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you going to get."
The public outcry in response to Sherman's brash statement has been intense. The 49ers have, at least officially, stayed above the fray. Patrick Willis, in particular, took the high road in an interview with FOX Sports. "We left it all on the field, I wish them luck. God gets all the glory!"
The reaction of Seahawks' fans is predictable. They will defend Sherman because without his on-field play this season they would likely not be favored to win their first Lombardi Trophy in nearly four decades of existence. The Hawks have only played in one Super Bowl, and they were beaten by Pittsburgh in that previous trip to the top of the mountain.
The reaction of 49er fans is equally predictable. Fans have long memories, there will be another season, and these two teams will meet twice (at least) every year. The food that allegedly rained down on 49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman as he was being carted to the locker room with a torn ACL, may well be met in kind next year in San Francisco.
The reaction of other athletes has been interesting to note. They know the thrill of big victory and the elation that comes with it. Detroit Tigers' All-Star righthander Justin Verlander tweeted the following:
"So Russell is a class act! Sherman on the other hand.... If he played baseball would get a high and tight fastball."
:Indianapolis Colts' long snapper had a choice tweet as well, when he fired this shot across the outspoken Sherman's bow:
"WOW Sherman is a d***** .... He's good .... But I remember when TY Hilton dominated you."
But one wonders about the reactions of fans such as those of the Dolphins, Chargers, and Bills. In other words, fans that don't have a particular stake in Seattle/San Francisco. Likely it depends on their stance on things like "sportsmanship" and "class." One suspects that they might be thinking, "This ought to be the day that we talk about a great game between two really good teams, and look forward to a great matchup in two weeks."
But instead Richard Sherman made it about him. And that is a shame.