Have we discussed Richard Sherman’s rant to the point of nausea yet? No? Well let’s continue the conversation then. After having slept on this topic two consecutive nights (without losing sleep) I’m convinced there’s a perfectly good reason I did not lose sleep over Richard Sherman’s interview or the way he carried himself. Nor do I find fascinating his Communications degree from Stanford the week before Super Bowl XLVIII. I’m neither interested nor disinterested in his apology, his arrogance, or his Compton roots. I would have preferred some actual insight to the play he made during Erin Andrew’s interview, but it doesn’t bother me that he took the route he did. I’m actually not surprised by his remarks. In fact, Richard Sherman gave football fans exactly what we wanted. Good football.
I was a bit surprised by the social backlash toward Sherman because I didn’t realize America’s expectations of him were so high. He’s been a loud talking attention seeker his whole career which seemed to be exemplified this season due to the team’s success. He has never shied away from a camera, a debate or an opportunity to say what was on his mind. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being in the NFL spotlight.
So why are we still talking about this rant?
A long time ago a mentor taught me the fundamentals of conversation, as well as what motivates people to talk. There are several factors of course that drive people to talk about a brand, product or service. If we consider what made the entire country talk about Richard Sherman, it could potentially be reduced to his relevance and his authenticity.
First, Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks just won the NFC Championship Game and a trip to the Super Bowl. And everyone in America was watching! I would say that game and the play he made were very relevant to NFL fans everywhere; especially in populous cities like New York, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. Millions of people were emotionally invested in the outcome of that game, and apparently, no one more emotionally charged than Sherman himself. Now consider what we know about brands, services, products and people. If the topic is relevant, people (fans) will talk. And if influential people (fans) are talking, the word is spreading. Then trending. Then viral.
Secondly, Richard Sherman is authentic. His style, his story, his mouth, his education, his hair, his ability to lockdown wide receivers and even his post-game interviews. That is pure Richard Sherman. His own personal brand if you will. He can say what he wants about those actions not accurately depicting who he really is off the field, and that may be true and fine. If you watched his interview though, you saw raw emotion. Spit flying, shit talking, testosterone raging, Compton roots, I’m going to the Super Bowl after just making the play of the game!
Sherman showed authenticity, his true colors in that particular moment. He has a side to him that no one else on either team could have showed; because they are naturally and definitely nurtured differently, than Richard Sherman. That was an authentic persona of playing defensive back in the NFL.
At the end of the day Richard Sherman may in fact be a good guy. But will NFL fans ever really care what kind of guy he is?