BOSTON (CBS) — You can say a lot about Richard Sherman — that he’s a loud-mouth, a show-off, a jerk, whatever — but you can never call the man a fool.
Yeah, yeah, yeah — the fact that he went to Stanford gets mentioned during games almost as much as Julian Edelman’s college quarterback days. Everybody knows that.
But beyond the All-Pro cornerback’s alma mater, it’s clear that Sherman has a keen business sense. He knows, personally, that his career has a max life of about 10 years, so the character and sideshow you so often see on TV is a way of maximizing his earning potential during that window while also opening up opportunities to work in the media for many years to come. After all, there’s a reason that Darrelle Revis and Patrick Peterson don’t have soup sponsorship deals.
And Sherman, 26, understands the NFL, a business infinitely larger and more powerful than his own personal brand.
You might remember that a year ago at this time, the nation was up in arms — not about deflated footballs, but about a boisterous interview. Sideline reporter Erin Andrews grabbed a fired-up Sherman on the field in Seattle, moments after he had made a play to assist on the game-winning interception to seal the Seahawks’ trip to the Super Bowl.
The play concluded a three-hour battle with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, against whom Sherman clearly and publicly had a personal vendetta.
“Well I’m the best corner in the game!” a raspy-voiced Sherman screamed into the microphone. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me! … Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or else I’m gonna shut it for you real quick!”
Immediately, Sherman’s outburst became the No. 1 story that Sunday evening, and it carried over throughout the entire week that followed. It also spilled into the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Opinions ranged from “that was great” to “that was horrific” and everywhere in between.
Sherman received a $7,875 fine for taunting Crabtree during the game, but that was a small price to pay for the amount of attention he got from his postgame tirade.
And the same can be said for the NFL, the league that found itself getting unlimited attention from every media outlet in the world, all thanks to a simple postgame interview.
OK, so you knew all of this — what’s the point. Well, during Super Bowl week, Sherman wrote a story for The MMQB, in which he covered a number of topics.
As we are now in Day 6 of “DeflateGate,” one of Sherman’s comments in particular stands out.
“This stage is bigger than I thought it was. How much does America love football? My one little rant made it onto CNBC and CNN. I heard my name on ‘The View.’ I got tweets in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Czech and Arabic. People identify with the struggle and the battle of a football game,” Sherman wrote. “The NFL always wins. Every time a game ends on a controversial call or somebody loses it on camera, it’s free advertising for the NFL. It’s not just my name being talked about on all the shows; it’s the NFL’s logo on all the shows. That means more eyes on the Super Bowl, more clicks for their websites, and potentially more sales of my jersey, for which I don’t see a kickback. Even when they’re taking money out of my pockets with fines, the league is constantly winning.”
From the LOB’s foremost member, that’s quite the boom.
Sherman was right a year ago, and if he were to say that exact same thing today, he’d be right again.
The NFL always wins. Controversy is good for business. Free advertising. More eyeballs. More clicks. More money.
So, as CNN and CBS News and every other major outlet in the controversy focuses its attention on pounds-per-square-inch, as nerds around the country handle a football for the first time in their lives for TV segments about air pressure, and as thousands upon thousands of stories are published on every website in the world (sports or otherwise) about “DeflateGate,” the NFL just keeps on winning.
That perspective helps explain so much this week. If you’re wondering why this story only gets weirder by the hour, if you’re wondering why this has somehow not once ever been an issue in the NFL, and if you’re wondering how the NFL’s “investigators” have yet to interview Tom Brady, well, there’s your answer.
The more people talk about this and the more this goes on, the more the NFL wins.
Don’t expect the NFL to let the clock run out of this game any time soon.