Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

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

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT