'Big game' behavior improved, but not entirely
Congratulations are in order to the Seattle Seahawks and their stunning victory over the Denver Broncos in the latest version of America’s most hyped sporting event, the Super Bowl. A petition is circulating asking President Obama to declare Super Bowl Monday a national holiday. To the 1.5 million people expected to miss work today, I say, “Get a life.”
Right on up until kickoff, I really had no clue as to which team I should cheer for. As soon as the game unfolded, I found myself pulling for the Seahawks, especially following the Broncos' initial possession when they started an offensive drive with an errant hike to Peyton Manning that went into the end zone for a safety.
I’m not sure if it was because of their quarterback Russell Wilson’s underdog status playing against one of his heroes, specifically Peyton Manning, that made it easier for me to root for Seattle. Actually, I was among the many fans who held a grudge against the Seahawks for the immature behavior of the star of the AFC Championship game, Richard Sherman, which left me with the inability to cheer for his team.
Following his ranting braggadocio performance in the face of an opposing player, Sherman tried to clean up his selfish denigrating act by making claims like “That is not who I am.”
He failed to realize that for millions of viewers, that was the first impression of who Richard Sherman was — an arrogant jerk. Yes, he was the valedictorian of his high school class in Compton, California. Indeed, he graduated from highly reputable Stanford University, even getting his master’s degree. If he wants people to judge him by that, he needs to act in accordance. Hopefully he learned a lesson for his actions following the Seahawk’s Super Bowl win where he showed a huge improvement in his behavior.
I remember having prejudiced feelings in the Super Bowl game of 2008 when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots. Like the Seahawks' Sherman, a point of contention about the Patriots team was the pre-game arrogance of one of their most important players. Surprisingly, I’m not talking about their wide receiver, the controversial ex-Viking Randy Moss, who handled defeat in a classy manner and gave credit where credit was due. I’m referring to their quarterback, Tom Brady, who did all he could to not laugh in the face of a New York Giants player who had the audacity to predict, not only a victory over the Patriots, but stated that he felt his team could hold the Brady Bunch to 17 points. (They actually scored 14.) Tom Brady didn’t just laugh at one opposing player’s statement. He brushed off the entire New York Giants' defense by acting as if there was no football team in Tom Brady’s universe that could possibly keep a Tom Brady-led team from scoring all of the points they wanted to. The Giants defense wiped the smirk off that smiling face and replaced it with enough grass stains on the posterior of the quarterback’s uniform that the grazing cattle in the adjoining pasture were drooling with envy.
Although Seattle’s offense put up more than 40 points on the scoreboard, like the Giants of 2008 the Seahawks' defense was the story of the game. For all the Peyton Manning hype, he was only able to mange eight points against the top defensive team in the NFL. Unlike Brady, Manning expressed his usual calm, business-like manner in which he plays the game.
The New England Patriots as a team had left a foul taste left in the mouths of many NFL fans after the revelations of the cheating they did in order to win all those Super Bowls. For the uninformed, the Patriots and their grumpy, know-it-all coach were accused of illegally videotaping other teams’ workouts and games to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. Although they tried to brush this off with the eternal excuse that “all of the teams do this,” none went to the great lengths of the Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick and his philosophy of winning no matter what the cost, legal or not.
Sportsmanship 101 teaches young players way back in grade school that you always treat the opposing team with respect when you shake hands, whether after a victory or a heartbreaking defeat. How can you expect players to show respect for the game when coaches justify "win by all means" mentality?
For the most part, the behavior at Super Bowl 2014 was much improved over some years past. However, it wasn’t entirely. Who was the crazy player who dropped his pants during the postgame frenzy, and just what was that about?