As he so frequently does, Richard Sherman offered interesting and insightful commentary at his weekly press conference.
Tuesday afternoon, he shined a light on NFL hypocrisy regarding endorsements and fines, and most compellingly, on player safety.
Sherman stood up and called out the league for preaching player safety while asking teams to play games on three days of rest so it can collect television money for Thursday broadcasts.
That’s a bold and valid stance.
But, uncharacteristically, Sherman suffered from bad timing and unpolished delivery.
Timing? On Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks play a critical game against the rival San Francisco 49ers. With a 7-4 record, the Seahawks have little or no margin for error the rest of the way, and games in the Bay Area have so frequently ended in narrow losses.
It seems this team would be best without another sideshow on a short week.
Delivery? Well, I’m not schooled in theater so I can’t judge the staging, but it seemed a little strange to have receiver Doug Baldwin crouched down behind a life-size, stand-up cutout of himself as he served as straight man for Sherman at the podium.
I’ve had a notebook and recorder on hand nearly every time Richard Sherman has addressed the media since he has been in the league. And I’ve never seen anyone better or more enjoyable and accommodating.
I’ve heard him masterfully quote Shakespeare, Kipling, Einstein and a startling range of others to illustrate his points. And, make no mistake, he always knows exactly what he’s saying.
For instance, his little performance Tuesday was in protest of the league fining running back Marshawn Lynch $100,000 for not meeting his contractual obligations to speak to the media.
Sherman shrewdly aimed the bite of his satire toward the NFL for levying its fines at Lynch for violating the policy, while in no way criticizing the media for asking him the questions.
Sherman fully understands the media and how it has helped him become the national figure he is.
Speaking to the Baldwin likeness, Sherman cited the Lynch fine while noting that those players who are always willing to speak to the media are prohibited from mentioning their products.
While in rebel mode, Sherman went ahead and mentioned Beats by Dre headphones, Neff shades and Campbell’s Soup. The voice from behind the cardboard Baldwin offered mentions of Subway sandwiches and Martinelli’s drinks.
The obvious reason for the league’s prohibitive stance is that it wants the NFL endorsement deals to supersede player endorsement deals. Greed, you see, is a trait the NFL objects to in others.
The most relevant issue Sherman raises — laudably — are Thursday games, which extract an unreasonable toll on the bodies of players. All this was triggered by the Lynch fines.
I’ve avoided the issue of Lynch and his tax for stiffing the media. It’s my belief that nobody gives a rip about how the media and athletes get along. It’s such an intramural affair; it affects nobody but those directly involved.
When Lynch appeared to be taking questions at his locker recently, I asked him a question about his decision at halftime of the Kansas City game to get treatment on the sideline rather than in the locker room.
Why ask that? Because I thought that would be one question that fans would ask if they had the chance. I represent my newspaper, but I think the job is to serve the fans — to ask the questions they can’t ask because they can’t go in the locker room.
After Lynch made it clear that he was not going to respond with an answer, I withdrew, wishing to avoid what I expected would then turn into a sideshow. It did. Nobody benefits from that.
Asked about it the following day on KJR-AM’s 12th Man Roundtable, I gave my opinion that it’s time the NFL consider dropping the media-availability mandate in favor of voluntary participation. The players who want to talk can do so, and others can opt out if they choose.
It’s the NFL, but it’s also America. And the reality is this: Bad quotes don’t do us any good. Having the league force players to talk only creates more resentment.
However, Sherman can not only handle this, but he also flourishes with the exposure. This wasn’t exactly the Montgomery bus boycott he started on Tuesday, but it raised fair points.
He’s the guy who can spawn the debate. But I’ve seen him in action, and he can do a lot better than Tuesday’s little sketch.
He can line up some teammates and fellow players to go in front of the cameras to force debate on these points. Everybody can wear their headphones and shades and carry their soup and sandwiches.
A couple of points, though: Do it during the bye week, or maybe the preseason rather than the week of the game against the Niners.
And to better make your point, ditch the cardboard Baldwin; use a life-size cutout of commissioner Roger Goodell.
That will get their attention.