Sherman story is really just about another athlete acting like a jerk

And so Super Bowl week has arrived, the game again a sideshow, but never like this. Never has the game itself surrendered the spotlight to two such ambiguities as the weather and the musings of Richard Sherman.

The weather? How predictable, in spite of its inherent unpredictability, that its prognosticators are hinting at snow Sunday at Met Life Stadium. Or maybe not. Let the melodrama flow. Did you think they'd predict anything other than snow? Now we're forced to watch the weather all week, perpetuating the penchant for weather forecasters and their tireless, look-at-me act.

Then there's the curious case of Mr. Sherman. America's reverse pivot on him in recent days has been somewhat stunning, not to mention a study of sociological whims of the roaring 2000s.

Sherman, in many precincts, has morphed from a WWE act into a misunderstood beacon. In just a few days, too. To wit:

"What Richard Sherman did was teach us about ourselves," wrote Isaac Saul of the Huffington Post. "He taught us that we're still a country that isn't ready for lower-class Americans from neighborhoods like Compton to succeed. We're still a country that can't decipher a person's character.

"But most of all," Saul wrote, "he taught us that no matter what you overcome in your life, we're still a country that can't accept someone if they're a little louder, a little prouder, or a little different from the people we surround ourselves with."

I can't say Mr. Saul is completely wrong. There's probably a considerable segment of dullards out there to whom that applies. They're the people the great Anna Quindlen once referred to as harboring the illusion "they are better because they are white in a world that still has a hard time tolerating someone who isn't."

But I'd like to think they're the moron minority here. I'd also like to think the more tolerant, thinking members of society saw Sherman's postgame act for what it was: a puffed up testosterone display an insolent, ill-mannered narcissist.

I mean, when he shouted his way through the Erin Andrews interview, I remember thinking, "that's just what Mariano Rivera would have done."

Sherman wasn't black or white that day as much as a jerk. And the media-caught-him-in-the-heat-of-the-moment argument is a cop out. What, we haven't seen hundreds of athletes 10 seconds after the big game ends handle themselves with some dignity? Ever see Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia 15 seconds after the last out of the World Series do that? Eli Manning or Justin Tuck after the greatest Super Bowl upset of them all?

What's become bothersome here: Some people have allowed Sherman's inspirational story to excuse his postgame behavior. We are supposed to "decipher his character," as Mr. Saul wrote, on his Compton-to-Stanford-to-the-NFL story, not on his conduct on national television.

Actually, his character gets to be deciphered through both. That's who he is. This is not either/or. This is "and." Richard Sherman is a success story: Grew up in Compton, amid gang violence. His father, Kevin, a sanitation worker in Los Angeles for 30 years. Graduated high school with academic honor. Earned a scholarship to Stanford.

Richard Sherman is also prone to acts of self-indulgence. This is not the first time he's made himself a spectacle.

I'm not sure why the Isaac Sauls of the world must further polarize what already polarizes. America isn't ready for "lower class Americans" to succeed? Stop. What America isn't ready for, or at least doesn't want to tolerate any longer, is another celebrity sans humility.

Justin Bieber or Richard Sherman. White or black. Jerk-i-tude crosses barriers.

I've spent the last 23 years here telling the stories of kids here in our own little corner of the universe. Especially in New London. New London is no Compton, sure, although it's perceived as the grim urban core surrounded by more affluent communities. This just in: New London kids, in spite of being burdened with diminished expectations, have great stories to tell, too.

And most readers enjoy success stories, no matter the race, ethnicity or background of the subject matter.

Richard Sherman has only himself to blame for being misunderstood. Imagine the reaction if the guy who saved the game delivered a Jeter-esque postgame oratory? Then we'd know Richard Sherman as the kid who rose from Compton and has become a beacon in the NFL, too. Instead, we saw him as a jerk.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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