When I go all Sherman on somebody, I have one thing to say: Thank God there’s no camera rolling!
If you don’t know what I mean, google “Richard Sherman Erin Andrews interview” and you can watch on any variety of media outlets the rant that rang round the world after Sunday’s heated match-up, (and great game) between San Francisco’s 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
We’re appalled, we’re thrilled, we’re disgusted, we’re debating and discussing it – we’re all over it like ants at a picnic.
Someone’s post went viral on Huffpost claiming that the fascination with Sherman’s larger-than-life, post-game behavior is some kind of indicator that America needs to learn how to accept, root for and make room for someone who defied the odds and ranked up in life by combining hard-work ethic with God-given talent. We need to learn how to make room for the underdog Shermans of the world.
Well-worded BS. I think this blogger’s back-door approach to reprimanding millions of people for responding to Sherman’s outburst is not insightful but ridiculous. Sherman is a big-play maker, a hard-worker and a committed team member who loves his mom! I’m all about those things. I have no problem with his past or his future. I am America and I don’t need to learn how to make room for Sherman – he’s pretty good at making his own room.
What we need to do is this: equally weigh his apologies against his in-the-moment outburst.
So please, stop defending and justifying and analyzing Richard Sherman’s behavior.
Because God knows when I act badly, regardless of how justified I am, what I really need is forgiveness. And if I’m too full of myself to see it, well, I need someone who loves me to point it out (gently).
Because the cameras don’t capture the ugly faces I make and show them to the world. And, yes, I’ve made them.
And I’ve been justified. My backstory proves it.
I was the victim of a crime. A crime that threatened to kill my family. Only a fraction of a second, less time than it took Sherman to grab the football from Crabtree in the end zone, separated my girls and my husband from the careening slam of a drunk driver’s van. That van struck the front fender of ours and swung around and shoved us into a guardrail. What happened nearly killed me.
As my lung was near my shoulder joint and my organs were crushed into pieces and my diaphragm torn, I was, whether I wanted to be or not, in the battle for my life.
This wasn’t a game or a competition or even fair. It was war, struck on my family unbidden, unwelcome, unfair, illegal. And I have had to fight to walk, to be normal and happy and healthy again. I had to hop on one foot, using a walker, with staples running down my belly into my first physical therapy appointment.
And I don’t care what kind of mental preparation an athlete needs to exercise in order to play on a professional level, nothing Sherman has endured looked like me, less than a month after the accident, hopping with that stupid walker into my kitchen in the middle of the night, leg throbbing, head reeling, to make myself ginger tea because not only did I almost die, but I contracted the worst stomach flu of my life and there wasn’t a spot on my body that didn’t hurt.
And I was mad. Mad at the man who couldn’t stop drinking and drove straight into us. Mad that my life was changed when I felt things were going just fine. I was mad at God in that moment, because, dammit, I could handle the surgery, the titanium rod, the screws, the nearly dying, the breathlessness of those moments I accepted the real possibility of death, even the emotional battle that I’d witness my kids wrestle through, but the FLU!? What was fair about having the stomach flu when one’s entire belly is held together with bits of string and staples?
And I made faces and I said what. Out loud in the glow of the stove light while the water came to a boil. I seethed and let it fly.
But it’s taken much, much less than a near-death experience and multiple injuries for me to go Sherman on someone.
A broken heart, a broken glass, spilled dinner on the floor, running late for an appointment, a diaper blowout in the crib… little, inconsequential things have made my blood boil, my face contort and the nearest person looking for a place to duck and hide.
And all I want afterward, when the blood pressure resumes normalcy and the adrenalin ebbs is this: forgiveness.
Don’t justify me or explain how reasonable it is that I go thug whenever the mood strikes me because of my past, don’t placate me with ridiculous lessons that other people need to learn. Help me stop making it all about me. Don’t talk about me but hear my “I’m sorry” no matter how lame, and give me a chance to do better next time.
Because boasting is gross and justifying bad behavior promotes prideful putrefaction. Sure, Sherman is the best corner in the game, okay. Today he is. But, he may not be one day. And regardless of how many beautiful plays or amazing accomplishments he may have to bolster his ego, when it’s Sherman alone in the dark, fighting for breath, none of it will matter. I know. Trust me, I know.
The big things, the little things, the games won or lost, the mistakes, the regrets, the things you’d do again in a minute… it ends. And the pride or the shame or the joy you once felt about it? It’s a mist.
And what else is a mist? What people said about you. It all absolutely fades into one thing that matters: living here or living there, (wherever “there” may be in your belief system). It is all wiped clean.
The stats are gone, so is the fan-base and the justifying and the goal-setting and the pursuing of dreams.
And I’m not going to lie about it, when you get to that end-game moment and you don’t die, you awaken four days later in a whirlwind of pain strapped to a bed in ICU and then embark on the life-long journey of trying to figure out how to be here when you were ready to accept death? It’s hard. Damn hard. I don’t know how to be a fighter, a survivor, a mom, a normal person anymore because I am here in the everyday of life after having been there on the cusp of death. Because I know more now more than ever that everything and nothing matters. And the inner dialog about this wears me down.
And sometimes I get angry. And I make the face. The one me and you and Richard Sherman have in common. And I yell at the wrong people.
And then I say I’m sorry. And I hope you’ll forgive me.
What I really need is forgiven and the chance to move on into a new moment, a new space unsullied by my mess-making proclivity toward pride. A bit of room to not be defined by my past or my pride or my hurt or even my perception of reality.
This is what the bible calls grace. Freedom to move into the next moment untethered from the mistakes of the last.
Sherman made a mistake. He said so.
He doesn’t need his fan-base running all over trying to find justifications or lessons to apply to the situation. He needs to be forgiven. And then he needs to try and do better.