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Oliver: NFL’s ‘look at me’ culture out of control

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 8:53 a.m. CDT

As an unabashed National Football League fan, I often am asked for my opinion.

I’m no Hub Arkush or Tom Musick, but my friends and acquaintances know that I watch more than my fair share of games during the regular season and playoffs.

So it comes as no surprise that I’ve been asked repeatedly about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman – or more specifically, about his rant after the NFC title game between the Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.

Sherman, who broke up a pass in the end zone to ice the game for the Seahawks, was interviewed afterward by sideline reporter Erin Andrews. 

As could be expected after a big play that essentially sent his team to the Super Bowl to face the Denver Broncos, Sherman was a bit, uh, enthusiastic.

Since the “rant” heard ’round the world, in which he declared his prowess at the cornerback position and the ineptitude of 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman has apologized for his immature outburst.

I’ll admit I was taken aback by the rant initially. In fact, I was ready to write an entire column about Sherman’s lack of class. 

However, after some digging, I discovered there’s more to Sherman than the 30-second interview would have us believe. Look up his background; it’s fascinating.

That said, the rant – as well as the other on-field antics for which Sherman was fined – was unnecessary and not something that can be condoned. 

What continues to gall me about the entire incident has less to do with Sherman himself than with the entire “look at me” culture that the NFL has become.

The silliness has been years in the making, with the NFL making only token attempts to stop it.

Who can forget the Sharpie incident in 2002 when then-49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens pulled a marker from his sock to autograph the football after a touchdown against Seattle?

Those types of incidents led to a crackdown against “excessive celebration” in the end zone.

But instead of making it less likely that players will try to draw attention to themselves, it seems to have gotten worse and spread to the other side of the ball, too.

Since when is a tackle worthy of a celebratory routine? I’m looking at you, Clay Matthews and J.J. Watt. But they are hardly alone.

Somewhere along the line, players stopped appreciating that they are on the field to “work.”

Tackling, catching, blocking and the like is … wait for it … their job.

Players should act like they’ve been there before. 

The really great players know that it takes a team to win and that they are there to contribute.

So here’s hoping the team with the classiest players wins this year’s Super Bowl.

As for Sherman, that really was a spectacular play he made on Crabtree. It probably was one of the biggest of his career.

And it spoke volumes without Sherman having to utter a word.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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