A GRIP ON SPORTS
The second trip to the Super Bowl ever. A hard-fought, down-to-the-wire NFC Championship game with a couple of major injuries and enough highlights to overload SportsCenter for weeks. And all anyone wants to talk about afterward is a minute-long interview? Really? Read on.
• If you haven't seen Richard Sherman's explosive interview with Erin Andrews, here it is. Remember it came just minutes after the end of the game, after Sherman had made the play that ensured Seattle's second Super Bowl trip and after he had been penalized for taunting Michael Crabtree. If there ever was a “heat-of-the-moment” interview, this is it.
• OK, I'm not condoning Sherman's behavior here. It was over the top and made a team moment into a “me” moment. I'm not into that. But I also don't think it's that big a deal. Just like I didn't think Peyton Manning saying he wanted a Bud Light the other day was that big a deal either, even if it was an advertisement tucked into an interview. One was a calculated way to make a sponsor happy (and drew attention away from Manning's team), the other was a glimpse into the emotion pro football players use to get through their 60-minute battle. But a lot of the criticism I read on social media bordered on racism, with folks immediately labeling Sherman a “thug” as if he worked himself out of Compton and through Stanford University with a .22 instead of his brains. He's an NFL cornerback. If you don't have a Sigmund Freud-sized ego you will be eaten alive. Should he have acted the way he did? No. Should he be raked over the coals for it? Sure, for a while. Should it color the way we look at him in the future? No. But for some it will. And that's too bad.
• By the way, here are some other things Richard Sherman could have said (and I have heard many football players say over the years). You tell me which statements, these or his, give you more insight into the feelings of football players. “I have to give credit to my teammates.” “I couldn't have done it without my faith and the faith of the coaches.” “It all comes down to who wants it more.” “All the work I put in during the offseason helped me make that play.” “He's a great player. I just happened to make this play.” “I want to give credit to the (insert opponents name here). They played hard and competed.”
• What about the football? Wasn't it fun to watch? The Oregonian's John Canzano catches the essence of what I really enjoyed in this column. It was a throwback game. Guys hitting each other with abandon but mainly within the rules. Bodies flying around. Quarterbacks making plays with their legs as well as their arms. If I didn't know better, I might have thought I had been transported back to the 1940s. Tough guys playing a tough game. It was so different than the earlier game Sunday, which seemed almost boring in comparison. Maybe it was because there was more invested in the outcome around here. Or maybe it was because these teams really don't like each other much, know each other a little too well and are willing to do whatever it takes to make the other team losers (like tripping or shoulder-chucking a gunner when he's out-of-bounds). But yesterday's game had a little MMA in it. Broken legs, destroyed knees, bloody faces and trash talking galore. But in the end it came down to one play, one stop or one score. One winner, one loser. One trip to New Jersey, one trip home. And one great football game.
• It's only crazy if it doesn't work, right? That explains why I was banished from the TV room yesterday and wasn't allowed to return. During the first half, while the Seahawks were comfortably behind, my behind was comfortably seated in my easy chair. But I went upstairs to get something to eat and the Hawks did something good. Hence I was asked to leave permanently. So I sat on the edge of the bed watching a much smaller TV without DVR capabilities, which at times was a good thing. When I began yelling as Michael Bennett almost scored on Colin Kaepernick's fumble, the folks downstairs were a couple plays behind and they couldn't figure out what the noise was about. And ditto on the fourth-down touchdown pass, though my yelling ruined their buzz by just a few seconds. But they deserved it. Treating me like some sort of bad-luck charm. I'll tell you, when Sherman got his fingertips on Kaepernick's last pass and tipped it to Malcolm Smith, I didn't stay upstairs. Nope, I ran down to watch everyone celebrate. Though they didn't want me stay for the three kneel downs. The nerve. By the way, I'll be watching the Super Bowl alone. In the bedroom. While everyone else is downstairs.
• One last thing. It was kind of funny reading Twitter yesterday when the game disappeared from the airwaves for a while in some places, most notably Pullman. The resourceful figured out it was still on Fox in Spanish and switched over to keep up with the action. A lot of “I wish I had paid better attention in high school Spanish” tweets.
• WSU: Even though Sunday was an NFL day, pure and simple, that doesn't mean we don't have Washington State news to pass along – and we'll do it in English. Jacob Thorpe had a blog post yesterday on a transfer headed to Pullman and he has another this morning with Pac-12 links. … The WSU women, playing without quite possibly their best player, Lia Galderia, lost their first Pac-12 game of the season. … Utah's men are back on the winning track.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan checked in yesterday with his day-after blog post following the win at Loyola-Marymount. … The Gonzaga women (second item) are in the midst of a four-game road swing and they won again Sunday. … The Portland women did as well. … BYU's men head to Spokane with some momentum.
• Seahawks: There are more links than you can possibly read, unless you have a cubicle in an out-of-the-way place at work. If that's the case start with John Blanchette's column on the game, it puts a little of Spokane in CenturyLink. … Then move on to the Bay Area stories, because they focus on the 49ers and their future. There is a lot of gloom and doom here, as if one NFC title loss is the end of the world. Of course the major injuries, to NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers' best defensive player, and Mike Iupati, the former Idaho star, did put a pall on things. … The Seattle coverage of the 23-17 win focuses a bit more on the positive, from Russell Wilson's slow start and spectacular fourth-down touchdown pass to Sherman's great play and postgame antics. There are interviews, there are pieces about the crowd and its effect, there are Pete Carroll moments – and, if you are wondering, he was pretty darn positive afterward. There are stories about the football, stories about the postgame, there are stories about everything. And that includes the Super Bowl with the Broncos, who are the favorites.
• Mariners: It doesn't look as if Tony LaRussa will be a fit in Seattle. That's a shock (and that was sarcasm).
• Being back in Spokane this week, I return to the radio today with Keith Osso (who you can see passing by in the background of the Sherman video) and Rick Lukens (whose man-crush on Wilson never wavered yesterday, even after Wilson's first-play fumble, pictured). You can listen here between 3 and 6 p.m. if you like. I'm sure we will talk about the Seahawks. Until then …