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By now you’ve all seen it. When outspoken Seahawks CB Richard Sherman went ballistic on Erin Andrews (video below), just moments after sealing a trip to the Super Bowl for his team, he became the central focus of an entire nation. Sherman went Muhammad Ali on everyone, declaring himself the “best corner in the game”, and calling out 49ers WR Michael Crabtree as “sorry” and “mediocre”. It’s been all over the internet, television and radio since last night, and seems to be almost the only thing anyone seems to want to talk about from last night’s NFC Championship game.
The reaction on Twitter was swift, and quick to judge Sherman as a “thug” or worse, as middle America clearly still isn’t comfortable with the living, breathing personification of a talented, arrogant and black athlete. Forbes published a thoughtful article outlining 22 things to keep in mind about Sherman’s display, which is definitely worth the read, and Sherman provided his own defense this morning on MMQB, saying that his beef with Crabtree stems from an off-season incident at a charity event, where reportedly Crabtree refused to shake Sherman’s hand and tried to fight him.
It goes back to something he said to me this offseason in Arizona, but you’d have to ask him about that. A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don’t like him.
It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person.
But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it.
But this display should have come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Sherman’s career, and knows he plays with his heart on his sleeve, is wildly confident in his abilities, and has never shied away from speaking his mind. Remember when he destroyed Skip Bayless on First Take, much to the delight of sports fans everywhere? Heck, NFL Films even did a feature on Sherman back in October entitled, “The trash-talking cornerback”, which provides tremendous insight into the man, and what motivates him. You should watch it. And furthermore, if there’s ever going to be a time for an athlete to talk this kind of trash, last night was most certainly that moment for Sherman, who had literally just moments prior delivered the play that sent Seattle to football’s biggest stage.
Putting a microphone in Sherman’s face with his adrenaline pumping like that, and you know you were going to get unfiltered, raw emotion … and that’s just what we got, to the point that it almost seemed like Sherman was being interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund after a WWF match. Well, thanks to the magic of the interwebz, we can see exactly what that would look like:
WWF MASH-UP VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
There has been a lot of speculation recently as to the meaning of the Broncos’ “Omaha” call at the line of scrimmage, which Peyton Manning seems to use prior to every play as part of his pre-snap audibles. Manning shouted “Omaha” 44 times during last Sunday’s divisional playoff win over the Chargers, so naturally, folks are curious.
Well, Manning finally explained the call during today’s pre-AFC Championship press conference, and did so in a way that will probably only serve to leave people more confused than before. When a reporter asked Peyton what it is that he loves about the city of Omaha, Manning first joked that it must be a fan-written question, but then obliged all of us wanting to know the same thing:
“Omaha is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things: when, which way we’re going, the quarter and the jerseys that we’re wearing. So it varies, really, play to play, so, that’s — there’s your answer to that one.”
There it is, indeed. Mystery solved. Thanks Peyton.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
In the wake of the ongoing Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga in Miami, players from around the NFL have voiced their opinions on bullying/hazing in the locker room, and how this situation could have been handled better.
In case you’ve been living in a cave, Martin left the Dolphins last week after saying he had been frequently harassed by teammates, and particularly Incognito, who has been suspended indefinitely by the team. Martin briefly checked himself into a south Florida hospital for emotional distress, and both the Dolphins and the league are investigating evidence in the form of voicemails and text messages that Martin received, which clearly cross the line of good-natured hazing into flat-out bullying.
Many athletes have suggested that Martin needed to “man up” and put an end to the bullying himself, while others have shown support for Martin, and disdain for Incognito’s actions. It all has placed the culture surrounding the NFL under a microscope, and forced everyone to take a long hard look at the type of mentality we’re fostering among athletes throughout the sport.
Grantland has a particularly interesting take on the situation, which is definitely worth a read. And MMBQ published a fascinating piece by former Dolphins lineman Lydon Murtha, which gives an insider’s perspective on just what exactly went down in Miami. In it, Murtha points out that Dolphins players were instructed by coaches to bring Martin out of his shell and toughen him up … essentially, the NFL’s version of ordering a Code Red from A Few Good Men.
Bears WR Brandon Marshall is a particularly thoughtful NFL player, who has been remarkably candid about his own struggles with mental illness, and has actively tried to draw attention to the importance of mental health in our society, and in the sport of football. Marshall also spent a two years with the Dolphins and Incognito (from 2010-2011), so it should come as no surprise that he provided some of the more insightful commentary on the Martin/Incognito situation earlier this week.
MORE, INCLUDING VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
In case you missed it last night, Bengals rookie sensation Giovani Bernard scored the most impressive TD run of the year, with his remarkable Barry Sanders-esque 35-yard scamper.
On the play, Bernard took the pitch from Andy Dalton, then reversed field after being seemingly trapped by two defenders in the backfield, and somehow evaded everyone in a Dolphins uniform on his way to the endzone.
It was pretty incredible, and is worth watching over and over, in glorious GIF format:
Here’s the video of the play, and below is another GIF, from a different angle:
Perhaps the most important piece of investigative journalism about the NFL in recent history – Frontline’s 2-hour documentary, “League of Denial” - will premiere tonight on your local PBS station.
Based on the book of the same name by ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the piece takes an in-depth look at the impact of head trauma on the NFL and it’s players. Along the way, it shows how the league – in an effort to protect its multi-billion dollar business - has publicly pretended to care about the link between football and subsequent cumulative brain injury, but in reality has tried to play down the issue, and even gone so far as to cover it up.
The documentary has already proved controversial enough that ESPN removed their own credit from the documentary, most likely in fear of retribution from the league. It’s definitely must-DVR material, and worth watching, especially if you have (or plan to have) kids who may play football some day.
Ultimately, this program – and the revelations made within – could change the very foundation of our nation’s favorite sport, and how it’s played.
MORE VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
It’s October, which means we’re in the midst of the annual pink-a-palooza celebration in the NFL to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the over-the-top PR campaign put on by the league to go along with it. Players sporting neon pink gloves, cleats, socks, towels and more have become a familiar sight in recent years, all in the good name of supporting the NFL’s A Crucial Catch program.
Well today, in response to an outcry of general dissatisfaction from both fans and teams, the NFL confirmed that the league will stop using pink penalty flags after week 5.
While breast cancer awareness is certainly a fantastic cause, and the league’s campaign to call attention to it a seemingly a great idea, some have questioned how much of the proceeds from the Crucial Catch program actually go to support cancer charities, and whether this isn’t some grand effort to divert attention from the league’s numerous other PR issues – namely the controversy surrounding the violence of the sport and resulting brain injuries suffered by its players.
But regardless of your feelings on those matters, with the inclusion of pink first down markers, pink wristbands, pink mouthguards, pink captains patches, pink chinstraps and the like, there’s a chance that you’ve been feeling like the game has been overtaken by the color, to the point of distraction. And when it comes to pink penalty flags, it seems that everyone – including the NFL brain trust – agrees that the league has finally gone too far.
The use of the pink penalty flags originated from an 11-year-old fan who wrote a letter to Roger Goodell suggesting the idea — and Goodell jumped on the multi-pronged PR move like a cheetah, implementing it for just one game last season. But this weekend saw neon fuchsia laundry all over the field, with refs in each game using the hot pink flags to mark a penalty, leading to confusion for fans, players and announcers alike. So rather than continue the practice throughout October, the league decided to pull the plug after one week.
Fear not fans of all things pink, we’ll still get to see pink shoelaces and skull caps for the rest of the month (yeesh) … but the pink flags will be gone after tonight. Thank goodness.
Our long Tampa Bay-area nightmare has finally come to its inevitable close, as the Buccaneers released Josh Freeman today, after failed attempts at trading the embattled QB.
It’s been an ugly season so far for Freeman, who has had an openly contentious relationship with head coach Greg Schiano. Freeman reportedly missed the team photo earlier this year, and his teammates didn’t select him as a team captain for the first time since his rookie campaign — a vote that some thought may have been orchestrated by Schiano. Last weekend, Freeman was benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, signaling the end of the Freeman era in Tampa. And then earlier this week, Freeman accused the organization of leaking confidential information about his involvement in the NFL’s drug program.
After attempts to trade Freeman over the past week were unsuccessful, the Buccaneers finally put an end to the drama by granting his release.
The atmosphere created by Schiano in Tampa Bay is clearly dysfunctional, and not just as it relates to Freeman. In an article on MMBQ.com published yesterday, Andrew Brant reveals that the entire Bucs locker room is feeling the effects of Schiano’s coaching style:
In speaking with agents of several Bucs players recently, I have sensed a common theme: There is an atmosphere of fear and distrust under the current regime in Tampa. Players have told their agents about coaches roaming through the locker room (typically the players’ sanctuary away from coaches) and staff videotaping players on the sidelines during losses to single out players laughing or horsing around. The players also speak to the influx of multiple Rutgers players from Schiano’s past and the use of the phrase “Schiano Men,” a term that clearly does not apply to Freeman.
So while Freeman is not without blame in this situation, his issues were exacerbated – and purposely brought into the public eye – by Schiano. And his heavy-handed style will likely lead to the release of other players who aren’t considered “Schiano Men” … which in any other setting, probably isn’t such a bad thing.
One of the more interesting stories in the NFL last week was that undercover Seattle cops were planning on dressing in visitors’ team gear at Sundays’ Seahawks-49ers game, in an attempt to identify and remove unruly fans.
Well, one Seahawks fan saw right through their attempt at entrapment, and called out the most obvious narc in the building:
Back to the drawing board, SPD.
Yep, it’s true. The man with the most recognizable hair in professional sports is finally going to cut his long-flowing, Samson-esque mane. Polamalu, who hasn’t trimmed his hair in 10 years, announced it himself on his Facebook page:
We talk about supporting veterans often, but now its time for us all to DO something. I’m getting a ceremonial haircut this Veterans Day for the #VFWManeEvent with Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW I DARE you to join me.
Troy even posted a video promoting the fundraising event (see below), but something about the word “ceremonial” in his announcement makes us wonder whether or not Polamalu is really going to say goodbye to his trademark look. I mean, he’s made a second career out of hawking dandruff shampoo based entirely on his thick, bordering-on-ridiculous locks. But we also assume he wouldn’t flake out on the VFW, or trick people into donating money if he wasn’t really going to go through with it.
At least it’s for a good cause.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
Ever since they selected Tim Couch with the #1 overall pick in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had a long and pathetic revolving door of quarterbacks. In the last 14 seasons the Browns have had 18 different signal-callers under center, none of whom have made much of an impact, or even been able to stick around very long to try. That’s right — EIGHTEEN.
With today’s news that Brian Hoyer will get the start on Sunday in place of injured Brandon Weeden, you can now add number 19 to that list … which is exactly what one Browns fan has continued to do to their increasingly-depressing #2 Couch jersey. This picture really says all you need to know: