Welcome to the Richard Sherman Apology Tour.
Since his epic post-NFC Championship game interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews on Jan. 19, the Seattle Seahawk cornerback has apologized on the radio, television and even via text message to ESPN reporter Ed Werder.
By now, even non-sports fans know the back story. During the NFC championship game, with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging by an overpriced stadium cheese fry, Sherman became a household name.
Sure, his play in the end zone — tipping an interception into the arms of teammate Malcolm Smith — was memorable. But his verbal rocket at San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree is why we’re all atwitter.
Call it the rant heard ‘round the world.
“I’m the best corner in the game,” Sherman screamed into the camera. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”
Andrews, likely sensing interview gold, asked who was doing the talking.
“Crabtree,” he said. “Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”
Just like that, Sherman created more Denver Broncos fans than if Peyton Manning personally delivered a Papa John’s pepperoni pizza to every home in America. In the hours after helping Fox win the sound-bite lottery, I saw friends on social media commenting about Sherman who haven’t watched a game all year.
Sherman was taking heat from people who wouldn’t know a Seahawk from Sigmund the Sea Monster.
Sherman has since expressed regret over his choice of words, apologized for targeting Crabtree and for taking the focus away from his teammates.
Unfortunately, what he hasn’t apologized for is the Jan. 20 column he wrote for SI.com’s MMQB. After elaborating on his criticisms of Crabtree, he added this staggering nugget:
“To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field — don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.”
Does the Stanford grad really think it’s unfair to judge someone’s character when they’re at work? Of course, most would agree that the greatest measure of a man or woman is how they treat their family and serve others.
But is Sherman suggesting character has an on/off switch?
How we treat others is important whether we’re at work or not. Some might even argue when we’re on the clock and under contract, it’s more vital than ever that we’re on our best behavior, not our worst.
Imagine a corporate suit walking past the gray cubicles of his sales competitors after closing a big deal. Suddenly, he screams, “I’m the best salesman in the game! When you try me with a sorry salesman like Bob Jones, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me! Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”
You either treat others with respect, or you don’t.
You either follow the golden rule, or you don’t.
Character shouldn’t be something you take on and off like shoulder pads or a bow tie — it’s part of your heart, mind and soul.
Those who spent last week flapping their digital lips by calling him a thug, or worse, should be ashamed. Sherman is savvy, talented and passionate — on and off the field. He's probably brighter than 99 percent of his NFL colleagues, and Stanford sure doesn’t hand out diplomas like candy.
But he's also wrong.
Lines or no lines, whether punched in the time clock or lounging in the break room, whether winning football games or flipping burgers, character is character.
Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com
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