Today’s guest post is by WALEKPeppercommer Stefan Prelog.
Sure, Peyton Manning and Denver’s high-powered offense going up against Seattle and their bruising defense would make for a great matchup. But for the casual observer, Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t have much pizazz besides wondering how much snow there would be in the Meadowlands.
Enter Richard Sherman, the Seahawks cornerback who got his fingertips on a ball meant for ‘49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and forced an interception that secured the Seahawks victory. After the game, Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews asked Sherman about the play and in seconds he turned casual fans around the country into talking heads on the state of sports and society.
“Great — thanks Richard Sherman! Now I feel in need to root for Peyton and @Broncos. Thanks a lot,” was one response on Twitter .
The Twitter-sphere lit up with comments about Sherman’s outburst against Michael Crabtree. Everyone wanted to weigh in and talk about Sherman’s trash-talking post-game interview. It didn’t matter what Crabtree had said or what the history was, the Super Bowl had a new loudmouth to love or hate.
In an instant Sherman became this year’s Randy Moss, Chad Ochowhateveryournameisnow or Michael Irvin—and that’s not a bad thing.
Would it have been as interesting to hear Sherman say, “I was fortunate to make that play. We worked hard all game and I was thankful I had a chance to secure the win for me and my teammates. It was a true team effort?” We hear stock quotes like that all the time.
In a culture where public relations professionals and spokespeople work to ensure that nothing interesting comes out of the mouths of professional athletes, it’s refreshing to hear someone react and say exactly what’s on his mind.
Sherman followed up his live rant by penning a column for Sports Illustrated. It’s a fascinating read and a rare look into the psyche of a professional athlete, but one quote in particular stands out: “To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.” While that’s great insight, the media and fans everywhere already judged and made up their minds on Richard Sherman’s character.
Sports teams are a lot like companies, they don’t want their employees spouting off and saying things that might damage their brand. (Cue Barry Diller nodding his head). So when we get a little bit of honesty it cuts through the clutter like a Peyton Manning pass. A player or coach sharing actual thoughts is rare, but when it happens it’s ratings gold. Unfiltered, off-the-cuff comments are dissected, analyzed and debated by sports commentators and anyone with a Twitter handle for days, weeks even months and with social media some of them live in infamy.
Sherman turned a lot of people off with his bravado, but the NFL and Fox surely don’t mind. By simply speaking his mind he became the most talked about figure of the most talked about game of the year.
Want to guess which player not named Peyton Manning will have the most reporters clamoring for an interview on Super Bowl’s media day? Richard Sherman was simply being real. How’s that for a branding strategy?