Category Archives: Football

Rise of the Shermaniacs

richard_sherman_seahawks

I loved watching the Animaniacs when I was a kid. Something about the wacky, zany adventures of three cat-type creatures running amok just spoke to me. I’m not exactly sure why, but it did. As it turned out, the show was really meant for a more mature audience, and I wasn’t fully appreciating it given my young age (I was aged 6-11 during the show’s original run, of course there were re-runs long after that).

I only really understood it on the superficial level. Oh Pinky, and the Brain, you’re such an odd couple. Haha. Episodes I saw when I got older had more nuance, more comedy to them. They were downright smart. Obviously the whole thing was before my time, and my still-infantile brain couldn’t fully comprehend something of that scope.

There’s something about the Richard Sherman interview/backlash from last Sunday that strikes me as similar to that. We’ve entered a brave new world of sports coverage where access and visibility are at their zenith. You can actually talk to most your favourite athletes on Twitter now – or at least try to. Imagine explaining that concept to someone 10-15 years ago. Gone are the days of sending in fan mail and hoping for an autographed 8×10 in return.

If 10-year-old Nick had a Twitter account poor Doug Gilmour would have been barraged with questions about what his favourite colour was, and whether he preferred Kraft Dinner or pizza. And if I’d have gotten a retweet from Killer!? Man.

The reality is this level of engagement and access is uncharted waters for us. We’ve never really experienced this kind of access, so we still need to get used to it. It wasn’t so long ago that the NFL was devoid of sideline reporters, or NHL games were broadcast without a guy between the benches. We’ve started taking it for granted, but that is some incredible in-game coverage.

And so it went with Richard Sherman’s now famous post-game interview. Mere minutes after making an exceptional play to send his team to the Super Bowl, he was at once shunned by his opponent Michael Crabtree, and then had a camera shoved in front of him. Incidentally, we all caught a nice little glimpse of Sherman still very much with his “game face” on.

And the reaction was ugly. Sherman was called a ‘thug’ and a ‘monkey’, among many other hateful things. Which was especially awful considering Sherman didn’t do anything besides brag a little and say Crabtree was mediocre. Really not all that bad considering the spectrum of horrible things athletes have said and done.

Of course the irony is that this is everything we’ve ever wanted. We can’t live in the athlete’s world – the one we’ve put on a pedestal – and so we want the access we could never imagine. It’s why we watch 24/7, and created the MLB Fan Cave. The sideline interview is just another example of wanting to get close. On Sunday, we found ourselves right in the middle of Richard Sherman’s world and we couldn’t understand it.

To steal a beautiful Simpsons’ reference, we’re a bit like the mule with the spinning wheel. Damned if we know how we got it, and damned if we know how to use it.

Years without the access have created an unrealistic standard of the athlete. Imagine if Joe Namath had Twitter in his playing days? Surely that would have turned up some pretty unsavoury commentary (which would of course be due his account being ‘hacked’).

These people are never the perfect beings we project them to be in our minds. They have their flaws, and they get angry just like everyone does once in a while. That we expected Richard Sherman to come out acting like a choirboy instantly after his greatest professional moment to date was unrealistic. And that’s on us – the fans.

As we mature and move forward with this Truman Show sports world we’ve created for ourselves, perhaps we’ll come to understand more about who we, and the beings inside it, are. We are people who get upset, we are people who have a great deal of emotion, and are prone to expression. And if we can’t handle the raw emotion of a pro athlete – and rest assured, there will be more like Sherman – maybe we don’t deserve all this access. So far, it looks like we’re damned if we know how to use it.

NFL + L.A. = Shitty News for Bills?

Looks like waves are finally being made to bring football back to Los Angeles: NFL in LA

I guess it’s probably about time that a city (read: metropolitan area) whose population is around 12 million, has two baseball, basketball, and hockey teams in its vicinity, gets an NFL team back. I suppose there must have been a reason that the Rams left L.A. in the first place, but it seems unthinkable that there’s currently no NFL team in the City of Angels.

Although… according to Garth Woolsey of The Star, it seems like the Buffalo Bills could be a target for the group seeking a team.

Realistically, it doesn’t make sense to move a team from the east to the west without doing some other kind of changes to correct the disproportion within each conference. So hopefully someone realizes this, before the NFL wades into the territory of the MLB and (stupidly) uses unbalanced divisions (see the MLB’s, NL Central and AL West).

Besides, it would be pretty tragic if the Bills were to lose their team. The fans in Buffalo are so dedicated, even after so many painful years, that they don’t deserve to have this taken away from them.

Bills fans just can't catch a break...
Bills fans just can’t catch a break…

So, here’s hoping that Ralph Wilson hangs on for a while longer and L.A. goes after some other garbage team like the Raiders instead.

Good luck L.A., but long live Ralph and the good fans in Orchard Park.