Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is responding to critics of his televised rant following the team's Sunday night win, saying "those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field" shouldn't "judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines.”
A day after unleashing a verbal attack towards San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman wrote a column for Sports Illustrated's TheMMQB.com defending his remarks to Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
"A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking and some of that was [Michael] Crabtree," the Stanford graduate and frequent contributor to the site wrote. "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."
Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco's Michael Crabtree near the corner of the end zone with less than a minute left in the game, sending the ball right into the arms of Seattle teammate Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks' 23-17 win.
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Sherman was subsequently whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, after exchanging words with Crabtree and making what appeared to be a choking gesture.
Asked about the incident afterward by Andrews, Sherman stole the show and lit up Twitter with a rant that began: "I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get. Don't you ever talk about me!"
Sherman didn't back down later. He apologized to Andrews, then proceeded to call Crabtree "mediocre," making sure to annunciate each syllable of the word.
"I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver," Sherman said. "And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver that's what happens."
It was a fiery, emotional rant from Sherman, who celebrated his first Super Bowl trip by racing around the field after Russell Wilson took the final knee, then leaping into the first row of seats in the south end zone to celebrate with fans.
Sherman was rarely targeted by San Francisco, with most of the throws going toward Sherman's teammate Byron Maxwell. But when Colin Kaepernick had to make a throw in the final seconds, he decided to challenge the All-Pro.
Sherman stayed with Crabtree, leaped and batted the ball into the air with his left hand. That allowed Malcolm Smith to run underneath and make the interception that clinched the victory.
"I knew if I tipped it high enough someone would get there," Sherman said.
Sherman then ran over to Crabtree and gave him a pat on the backside, then appeared to extend his arm for a handshake. Instead, Sherman got shoved in the face before picking up his personal foul as his celebration continued.
"We just couldn't capitalize. Sherman made a good play. That's probably the only play he made all game," Crabtree said. "I ain't getting into that, he knows what time it is. When we're on the field, he ain't doing nothin'. That's one play, you know what I'm saying? ... He's a TV guy, I'm not a TV guy. I play ball."
Sherman writes that his issues with Crabtree go back to something that happened during the offseason in Arizona, but would not go into detail.
"He said something personal face to face. He knows what he said and he knows I'm going to be tough on him the rest of his career.”