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Richard Sherman has only himself to blame

By Terence Moore
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Terence Moore: Richard Sherman deserved criticism for his rant about Michael Crabtree
  • Don't make Sherman a civil rights hero; he set a bad example for young fans, he says
  • Moore argues that the notion sports heroes aren't role models is way off
  • Moore: Athletes can play constructive role to many kids raised without authority figures

Editor's note: Terence Moore is a sports columnist of more than three decades. He has worked for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The San Francisco Examiner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AOL Sports. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Memo to all of the Richard Sherman apologists: Stifle. This talented yet insufferable defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks isn't the 21st-century version of Malcolm, Martin or Medgar.

So you should quit your hand-wringing, and between now and the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks, you should remember that Sherman put himself into this position of getting blasted in so many ways. Mostly, when it comes to either screaming or whispering racism these days, you should find a more worthy cause.

This isn't it.

Terence Moore
Terence Moore

You should turn your attention to Valdosta, Georgia, where authorities are claiming up is down, water isn't wet and a 17-year-old black athlete suffocated to death after he "accidentally" rolled himself up in a wrestling mat at his high school.

Terence Moore: Sherman knows better
Will Sherman's rant pay off?

How about those ugly numbers involved with income inequality? That affects people of color more than anybody. According to a study released this week from British humanitarian group Oxfam International, the world's richest 85 people have as much wealth as the poorest 3 billion. And, goodness knows, most stop-and-frisk victims are darker than Rush Limbaugh.

As for this Sherman thing, puhleeze. I mean, if you decide to look and sound like a crazy person on national television, you likely will receive a bunch of responses from yahoos that won't be kind.

Sherman: Rant was 'immature,' reaction 'mind-boggling'

Those yahoos will view you as the yahoo.

That's not to excuse the use of racial epithets against Sherman. And to his credit, he apologized (with a mighty push from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll) for his rant on Sunday after his Seahawks reached the Super Bowl in the final seconds when he tipped away a potential game-winning pass to his arch-nemesis, Michael Crabtree, a star wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.

Sherman celebrated the moment by getting in a verbal spat with Crabtree, delivering the choke sign toward the 49ers bench and telling a Fox reporter on live television ... well, it wasn't good.

So here's the bottom line surrounding all things Sherman: Nobody with a clue needs to watch his apologists flash frowns of concern before saying why they believe he is misunderstood. They say he really is an intelligent guy working on his masters at his undergraduate school of Stanford. They say he is doing much of his trash talking before the nearest camera, microphone or reporter's notepad only for show. They say this is another example of why the rest of us just need to loosen up, because despite the way it appears (you know, that Sherman is absolutely out of control and needs a good spanking), he is being persecuted as a 25-year-old black male with dreadlocks trying to keep it real.

Yeah, well. Sherman's persona is dangerous, along with the shallow-thinking folks who support him and his ever-flapping tongue.

Here we are, 21 years after one of the most unfortunate commercials of all times, and many folks still haven't learned that Charles Barkley blew it. Back then, when he was a player for the Phoenix Suns instead of the analyst that he has become for NBA telecasts and other entities, Barkley looked into a camera for Nike to deliver six infamous words: "I am not a role model."

Well, there were lot of things wrong with that. For one, we all are role models -- regardless of intellect, occupation, age, creed, color, education, gender and social or economic status. Whether we like it or not, somebody always is studying us. And the more visibility we have in life, especially when it comes to the fields of athletics and entertainment, the more responsibility we have to present ourselves in a way that will influence others for the positive.

I know what Barkley said he was trying to say. He said he was trying to say youth in general and black youth in particular shouldn't look at athletes as their role models. He was trying to say they should try to emulate their parents. Sounds good, except as a person who has dealt up close and personal with black youngsters for decades around Atlanta -- ranging from speaking in elementary, junior high, high schools and colleges to teaching teenagers in Sunday School and leading youth groups -- many of them don't have two parents. Plus, according to statistics released by the U.S. census in May, 68% of black women who gave birth in the previous year were unmarried.

Not a lot of role modeling going on there.

Consider, too, that a large percentage of black youngsters raised by single women are latchkey kids, which means they come home to an empty dwelling to fend for themselves over long stretches of time. So many of those youngsters get their idea of how to survive and prosper from older folks in the neighborhood. Either that, or they look toward the most visible people they see on television. Actors, rappers, athletes. Which is why Barkley was a role model back then to millions, and which is why he remains one today -- whether he likes it or not.

The same is true of Sherman. And on that score, he was a loser on Sunday.

So Sherman deserved what he got in the aftermath.

The youth watching it all deserved better, period.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Terence Moore.

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