Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the post game conference after the 2013 NFC Championship football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman is misunderstood, should be a guy we root for

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I used to dislike Richard Sherman, and that was  back when I was too turned off by his outspokeness and trash-talk. When I was too willing to accept the anti-Sherman narratives abound in the media. When I was too PC about players actually talking trash. But since then, I’ve realized that Sherman is exactly the kind of guy I want to root for. He’s flawed, and his flaw is that he runs his mouth too much at times. But do we expect athletes to be perfect? Do certain flaws uproot all the good Sherman does, including helping troops and donating money? Sherman is a walking anti-narrative machine; he’s a self-described “nerd” from Compton who is a genius at defending his position and was a genius in high school and at Stanford.

Here are 23 great reasons to try and think of Sherman in a different light. You know, the light that isn’t portrayed by the cameras and the talking heads. The light that doesn’t exaggerate things to fill airtime or a story that makes him a villain, because it’s the villain who grabs the headline these days in a league filled with so few manufactured villains.

I wasn’t up-in-arms about Sherman’s rant against Michael Crabtree, but I was disappointed by the fact that he made the trash talk public. There are things about Sherman, such as the comments he’s made about the likes of Darrelle Revis and Skip Bayless, that upset me, and his choking sign to Colin Kaepernick was one of them. Sherman is one of those guys who I wish cared more about his media image, because it gets distorted. Sherman doesn’t say the same regurgitated stuff that most other athletes do, but I agree that he has a tendency to take it too far. The rant on Crabtree was a bit too far (which showed part of his flaws), but I think it’s become totally blown out of proportion.

You know who regrets it and who is astounded by how much of a story it has become? Richard Sherman himself. In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Rachel Nichols, Sherman stated that he regrets his actions,  “And that was immature and I probably shouldn’t have done that. I regret doing that.”

Can we please forgive him, since he was man enough to admit that he regrets it? Sherman is human and makes mistakes just like us, and he has flaws like we do. If you click the link to the interview with Nichols above, I think you’ll find that plenty of people have Sherman figured out all wrong. He’s polarizing, but that doesn’t mean he’s unlikable. I mean, if he and Erin Andrews can hug it out and laugh about the interview, then why should we be upset? Do we expect Sherman to like everyone? He has his enemies, and Crabtree is one of them due to the bad blood he has. But yes, his comments were disrespectful and unnecessary, and Sherman admits it. That should be enough.

Sherman is brash, cocky, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s a fresh take from what we’re used to in a public figure, and he’s a guy who has overcome so much to be one of the league’s best and smartest players. We like to root for people who we perceive as “perfect” in sports and in life, because that’s how most of us want our heroes to look like. But not everyone can be Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson, and I think it’s great that a guy like Sherman is willing to be himself in front of the media, be different, and speak his mind. He’s a guy we should be rooting for, instead of blowing things out of proportion against. He screws up just like we do. He goes overboard, just like most of us do. He’s different, and different shouldn’t be wrong. He trash talks, and trash-talking happens all the time. Does he talk too much smack? Yes, but is that enough to hate a guy who does so much good for the community and plays at such a high level? Heck no, and don’t let any mainstream, old-school perception of athletes skew Sherman as a person.

I used to hate Sherman and once called him a “loudmouth bigot”. But now I appreciate him for what he is: a great athlete and person who makes his fair share of errors, too, but is actually man enough to admit it. I wish he would tone it down, but only because it causes the good he does to be overshadowed by superficial qualms. Respect is an important word, though, and I guess it’s fair to criticize Sherman for lacking respect when looking at comments he’s made towards fellow NFL stars like Roddy White and Revis.

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