There's a scene in the great baseball film “Bull Durham” in which Kevin Costner's veteran catcher Crash Davis teaches Tim Robbins' brash young pitching star Nuke LaLoosh about the science of cliche usage in media interviews.
“Write this down: 'We've gotta play it one game at a time,' ” Davis tells LaLoosh.
” 'Got to play ... it's pretty boring,” the kid responds.
“Of course it's boring. Write it down,” Davis says.
Richard Sherman has likely never seen this scene. If he has, he certainly doesn't abide by the same tenets as Costner's character.
And you, the football fan, are all the more entertained for it.
By now, we've all seen the short postgame tirade delivered by Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback, during an interview with Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews after Seattle won the NFC championship to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. The video almost immediately went viral and inspired internet memes.
The response on social media was just as fast, with the majority opinion being anti-Sherman for trash-talking San Francisco 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree and screaming, “Don't you ever talk about me!”
In hindsight, the interview was — at least, in part — brilliant on Sherman's part.
“Don't you ever talk about me”? Sherman is all sports fans can talk about right now, it seems. In a two-week period when the talk would normally be about Peyton Manning and almost nothing else, Sherman made sure he would have as many microphones in his face as Manning, the promotional face of the NFL.
All compelling stories, whether they're in a book or on a screen, have an antagonist as reaction-evoking as the protagonist. Simply put: They've got a great bad guy. For the traditional sports fan, Sherman is now that bad guy, the one they want to see burnt to a crisp by Manning and Denver's wide receiving corps. Does that not make the Super Bowl more entertaining?
Using pro wrestling as an example: Where would the Hulk Hogans of the world be without the Iron Sheiks of the world? Not nearly as popular as they are now, that's for certain. And it seems like no one gets the genre of “sports entertainment” and playing the bad-guy role as much as Sherman does right now.
Is there something to be said for class? Of course. Sherman didn't need to trash-talk Crabtree after the game. He'd already won the game, and as the old phrase goes, living well is the best revenge.
Too many people, though, forget that they've probably been in the same position Sherman was with Andrews: a little too fired up, far too angry and speaking in the heat of the moment. He spoke — OK, yelled — emotionally. If you say you've never said anything stupid in the moment when really angry, you're not being honest.
Whatever you think, it doesn't seem that Sherman cares. Consider his “A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep” tweet, posted after his interviews.
Consider, too, his expensive headphone-hawking commercial, in which he tunes out a throng of reporters after being asked if he was a thug.
Life imitating art (or, in this case, commerce)? Perhaps. And Sherman is laughing all the way to the bank – and the Super Bowl.
Don't expect him to spout off a trite cliche any time soon, either.