Rivalries are a very important part of sports. In fact, they are vital. Where would we be if there had never been Yankees vs Red Sox, Lakers vs Celtics, or Ohio State vs Michigan. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many strong rivalries in sports today. Free agency in pro sports, and conference realignment in college sports are making it very difficult to keep teams together long enough to keep old rivalries going and new rivalries blossoming. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the 49ers vs Seahawks.
We all knew about what many are proclaiming to be the best rivalry in the NFL these days, but Sunday’s matchup between the top two teams from the NFC West for a trip to New York/New Jersey and Super Bowl XLVIII, took their rivalry to even new heights. The game was everything a championship game should be. Big plays by each team’s offense, close game right down to the last minute of the game, and just pure hard hitting football that the likes of Ronnie Lott and Kenny Easley ( Two hard hitting strong safeties from the 1980’s. Lott for the 49ers, Easley for the Seahawks) would be proud to say they played in. The game was outstanding, and the rivalry is terrific, but there’s also another rivalry that took a rise to new heights on the turf of Century Link Field in Seattle. The rivalry between 49ers wide receiver, Michael Crabtree and Seahawks corner back, Richard Sherman.
How fitting was it for this game to be decided on a play with Sherman and Crabtree playing the starring roles. The play was epic and one you’ll never want to forget if you’re a Seahawks fan, and one you’ll want to forget if you’re a Niners fan. As epic, as the play was, it’s what happened after the play that everyone is talking about. After, Sherman swatted away Colin Kaepernick’s pass in the back corner of the end zone for the Seahawk’s Malcolm Smith to intercept and clinch the NFC championship, Sherman ran over to Crabtree to pat him on the butt and what looked to be a mocked congratulatory handshake. Of course, Crabtree was having none of it and shoved Sherman in the face. Understandably so. Sherman was flagged 15 yards for taunting, but his interview after the game with Erin Andrews was for the ages!
By now, unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve seen the interview that was so intimidating to Andrews, she couldn’t ask Sherman another question. She was visibly shaken by Sherman’s rant that has taken the entire nation by storm. Or was she? Andrews, said in an interview of her own, “That was so awesome… and I loved it”. She acknowledged that she was a bit frightened, but she also said, ” You expect these guys to play like maniacs and animals for 60 minutes, and then 90 seconds after he makes a career-defining, game-changing play, I’m gonna be mad because he’s not giving me a cliché answer. No you don’t”. Erin, is absolutely right. Sometimes we put these players on pedestals, but at the end of the day, they’re human.
If, you know anything about Sherman, besides his stellar play as a shut-down corner, you know that he’s arrogant and sometimes a bit boisterous. To a certain extent, I think you have to be to play corner the way he does. The guy is arguably the best at his craft in the game today. A position that has always been full of players that aren’t afraid to tell you exactly how talented they think they are. I need not go any further than Deion Sanders. ‘Primetime’ as he affectionately called himself, made a living (a very good one I might add) of doing just that, but he backed it up on Sunday. So far, in his short NFL career, Sherman is doing the same. Which is what matters….right?
While I don’t condone Sherman’s actions after the play that sealed the Seahawks ticket to the Super Bowl, I do understand. And quite frankly, I loved it. Yes, it overshadowed a great team accomplishment, which by far and away was the worst part about this entire incident. It also rubbed some people the wrong way, because it was a selfish act and his remarks were so raw and uncut, but it also enhanced a rivalry between two teams and two players, that we already can’t get enough of. Whether or not you’re fan of one of these teams, the date these two get together will be circled on your calendar.