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Sports Then and Now

Richard Sherman is a Loudmouth, But Not an Original

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It might have been better if Richard Sherman had let his play on the field do all his talking.

It might have been better if Richard Sherman had let his play on the field do all his talking.

Much was made on social media of the unsportsmanlike display of Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman after he made a game-saving play in the final seconds of the NFC Championship Game between Seattle and the San Francisco 49ers.

While there is no question that Sherman’s gestures and trash talking at the end of the game were certainly un-called for and slightly diminish the greatness of his play, they are in no way original.

In fact, loud-mouthed defensive backs playing in the Super Bowl dates back to the very first NFL-AFL Championship Game when Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Fred “the Hammer” Williamson garnered headlines for his boasts about how he would handle the receivers for the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers.

“Two hammers to (Boyd) Dowler, one to (Carroll) Dale should be enough,” Williamson claimed.

Interestingly, Williamson and Sherman actually have more in common than just their bravado.

Both players attended schools known more for their academics than their football, Williamson at Northwestern and Sherman at Stanford.

They also were both lightly regarded coming into the NFL.

Williamson was an undrafted free agent and originally signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After spending one season in Pittsburgh, Williamson developed into an All-AFL defensive back during four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He then moved to Kansas City where he ultimately played three seasons.

Fred Williamson did a lot of talking before Super Bowl I, but a lot of chasing in the game.

Fred Williamson (#24) did a lot of talking before Super Bowl I, but a lot of chasing in the game.

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After playing for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Sherman was selected by Seattle in the fifth round (154th overall pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft. He quickly moved into the starting lineup as a rookie and has been an All-Pro for the last two years.

Sherman might want to tone down his rhetoric in the next two weeks given how Williamson’s words came back to haunt him.

Green Bay starting receiver Boyd Dowler did go out of Super Bowl I very early with a broken collar bone, though it was not the result of a hit by Williamson or anyone else. He was replaced in the lineup by aging veteran Max McGee, who ended up as one of the stars of the game with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Ironically, it was “The Hammer” who ended up getting knocked out of the first Super Bowl in the fourth quarter when his head accidentally connected with the knee of Green Bay running back Donny Anderson knocking him cold. The situation was made even worse when his arm was broken when his teammate Sherrill Headrick fell on his arm.

Many sports fans who didn’t appreciate Sherman’s lack of sportsmanship following the game against San Francisco would certainly enjoy seeing him suffering a similar fate during Super Bowl XLVIII.

While Williamson’s comments were certainly brash for the stoic 1960s, he was eventually able to parlay the fame garnered from his notoriety into a post football career in movies and commercials. He also spent a very brief time as a commentator on ABC’s iconic Monday Night Football broadcasts. He was selected in 1974 to replace Don Meredith, but after appearing in a number of preseason games was determined not to be a good fit and was replaced by Alex Karras.

Sherman has also shown the ability to transition off the field as he has written sports blogs for the Monday Morning QB web site and appeared on a number of commercials. Whether the negative notoriety he is currently enduring has any long-term impact on how he is perceived is likely to be seen, but he is obviously a smart person with multiple talents.

Of course, what Williamson wasn’t able to do was back up his comments on the field. Sherman was loud after the fact against the 49ers, but it will be interesting to see if he continues to boast over the next two weeks or if he recognizes that with Peyton Manning and the talented Broncos receivers on the other side it might be a good idea to keep his mouth shut and focus on football, instead of celebrity.

Given Sherman’s pedigree, I am sure he will be tempted to back-up his past comments and defend himself, but look for him to tone down his remarks heading into the Super Bowl.

Of course, if he ends up making a key play that helps Seattle win, then Erin Andrews and all the rest of us better be ready.

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