Mike Ferreri: The real Sherman and the angry caricature

SEATTLE - In a fit of raw emotion and miscalculated bravado Richard Sherman looked bad Sunday night less than a couple minutes after he looked great. He made a game-saving play to send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl then followed that up with a narcissistic rant on national TV.

I'm not mad at Sherman because he was caught up in the emotion of an intense football game and rivalry, and I'm disappointed that the rest of the United States and regions beyond think Richard Sherman is more like a raging pro wrestler screaming into a microphone than the intelligent Stanford grad and gifted athlete he really is.

We don't know what is said along that narrow divide that is the line of scrimmage before every single play. Two athletes at their competitive best fighting for a spot in the Super Bowl have their brains and bodies firing on all cylinders when they are going head-to-head trying to make a play for their team.

We'd be nave to think there wasn't any banter between Michael Crabtree and Sherman taking place all night long on Sunday. Football players wear helmets and mouthpieces but that doesn't stop them from talking. Sherman made the game-winning play in a one-on-one matchup with Crabtree in the closing seconds of the NFC championship game. He wanted to be sure his opponent knew he won and he wanted the world to know, too.

There was a history between Michael Crabtree and Richard Sherman long before any of the three 49ers-Seahawks games this season. The two almost got into it at a charity event this summer. Combine a genuine dislike for someone with the adrenaline that's pumping in the NFC championship game and there will be emotional combustion.

A more reasonable Richard Sherman explained his actions and dislike for Michael Crabtree in the Monday Morning Quarterback Column he writes:

"It goes back to something he said to me this off-season in Arizona, but you'd have to ask him about that. A lot of what I said to (Erin) 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. ... 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."

A person's life in large measure should be judged in some capacity for their contributions to the world and their family. Up here in the Northwest we know the Richard Sherman that stops by Children's Hospital unannounced and makes a sick kid's day.

We know the player that is honest, humorous and personable in press conferences leading up to games and after games, win or lose.

We know the Richard Sherman that less than 24 hours after playing a game on the road in Arizona this past October was at Foster High School in Tukwila to do something good for kids. He walked in and was mobbed by the entire Foster football team, the same football team that was presented with brand new cleats from ... Richard Sherman.

It didn't stop there. As part of his Blanket Coverage Foundation, Sherman gave select students - and there was an auditorium full - backpacks loaded with supplies to be successful in school. That's the Richard Sherman we know, and that's just scratching the surface.

Richard Sherman's interview with Erin Andrews lasted 18 seconds. But in this world of social media his words and actions ricocheted around the globe faster than that. For 18 seconds he was that angry, self-absorbed football player that made people cringe as their children watched what should have been the final moments of a historic football night in Seattle.

I don't fault Richard Sherman for getting caught up in the moment - we've all had our moments we would rather forget. But I do fault him for letting everything he has worked so hard to achieve on and off the field get blown up in 18 short seconds after the biggest win of his pro career.

He's better than that.

He's the best cornerback in the NFL and a good guy. The problem is too many people think otherwise because they don't know the real Richard Sherman - they only know the one that was screaming with rage on TV Sunday night.

A man who is like a dad to me and someone I deeply respect once was telling me how to conduct myself in the wide, wide world. He told me that when you leave this world, you'll leave with a cheap suit and a reputation.

Unfortunately, in this world, between the white lines or beyond them, reputations are hard to repair.