Seconds after Richard Sherman’s spectacular defensive play in the end zone sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl with a win over the formidable 49ers, reporter Erin Andrews thrust a microphone in his face while Century Link Field rocked with excitement. She asked him to walk her through the last play and here’s what he shouted:
“I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna’ get. Don’t you ever talk about me…Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna’ shut it for you real quick.”
Watch Richard Sherman’s rant here. It’s far better on video than in print.
Whether or not his diatribe was a justified response to criticism, whether or not it was a planned publicity stunt, whether or not it was excused after a physical game, whether or not he deserves a raise and more credit as the best cornerback in the league is for others to decide.
One thing’s for sure. Within seconds of his interview, reactions flooded the social networks. He was called a thug, a jerk, a fool and many other words I won’t print.
His rant certainly woke me up, but what really caught my attention was an article in Forbes the following day: “22 Brief Thoughts About That Richard Sherman Interview” by Tommy Tomlinson.
It’s not the greatest bit of journalism, but two sentences stood out:
“Sherman graduated second in his class in high school and also graduated from Stanford. So not only is he not a fool, odds are he’s smarter than you and me.”
What we have here is a categorical problem.
Folly is not the same as ignorance. The Bible is clear about what qualifies someone as foolish:
- He talks too much: Ecclesiastes 10:14
- He slanders others: Proverbs 10:18
- He is a scoffer: Proverbs 24:9
- He speaks too soon: Proverbs 29:20
- He has stumbling and sinful steps: Ecclesiastes 10:3 and Proverbs 26:11
- He is proud: Proverbs 28:26
- He is stubborn: Proverbs 12:15
- He is rash: Proverbs 12:16 and 13:15
- He picks fights: Proverbs 20:3
- He is quick to anger: Ecclesiastes 7:9
- He enjoys mischief: Proverbs 6:18
- He meddles in other people’s business: Proverbs 26:17
Obviously, folly does not preclude intelligence; in fact, it could very well be argued that intelligence is required for folly.
That fact is worth remembering in a time when education is vaulted so highly and the general public leans on it as a kind of savior.
Richard Sherman didn’t reveal anything new about himself, really, but he accidentally revealed a lot about us. Yes, we love controversy. Yes, we love to vilify. And, unfortunately, we don’t know the difference between an ignorant man and a fool.
Okay, so Richard Sherman has publicly condemned his diatribe as “immature”. Fine. No breaking news there. But it’s worth remembering that athletics often reveal our immaturities. It’s also worth remembering that the most pressing question is not whether he’s immature. Nor is the question whether he is smart or ignorant.
The most pressing question is whether he’s a wise man or a fool. That’s the question every child should learn to ask and it’s the question every adult should keep asking.
Look, an ignorant man has hope, but where is the hope for a fool?
Want to share your thoughts? I welcome them. Here’s a question to ponder: what can we do in a world where folly gets most of the publicity?