Thursday, December 27, 2012

NFL Should Be Ashamed, Sherman Vindicated

It was a little more than a month ago when the NFL slandered Richard Sherman. A drug testing process that is required to be confidential, was made public. A player who was having a Pro Bowl, All-Pro, Defensive Player of the Year season became synonymous with PED. Sherman is a man who climbed out of Compton into Stanford so he could be a role model for other kids that would follow, a man who endured an abusive college coach and found a way around him to the NFL by switching to defense, a man who climbed the depth charts from a 5th-round pick to shutdown corner in less than a year, a man gives his time to fans and those less fortunate every chance he gets. As we learned today that Sherman was absolved of guilt, the reaction was largely celebration in Seattle, but it will soon be accompanied by anger. A good person has been wronged. A budding career has been tarnished. And someone is going to pay.

Sherman has played his best football in the weeks that followed the breach of confidentiality about his test results. It was only three weeks ago that he had two interceptions and a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. It was a performance that was clearly deserving of NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Instead, the award went to Carolina's Luke Kuechly for making 16 tackles--none for loss--with no interceptions, forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. If you do not think the NFL PR department had a hand in eliminating Sherman from contention for that award, I have a bridge to sell you. The Pro Bowl rosters were announced yesterday and the best corner in all of football was nowhere to be seen. That has everything to do with Sherman's test results being leaked before his appeal was heard. Some will say awards do not matter. Tell that to Sherman who almost certainly gets incentives for achievements like that. He was a fifth-round draft pick that makes $465K. The money matters. What matters more is a player who has worked his tail off to launch a fantastic career will likely never be able to achieve without some segment of the population associating him with drugs and cheating. Shameful.

There will be those that say Sherman got off on a technicality. These are the same people that have told us for weeks that nobody gets off on appeal, that the deck is stacked so much against the player that there is no hope of winning. Well, he won. If someone winning a case in public court makes them innocent, a player winning an appeal deserves at least that, and possibly more. Sherman may have grounds to pursue a defamation suit in court for punitive damages. More likely, he will pursue his case on the field.

Opposing offenses have largely avoided Sherman's side of the field this season. There may be no place safe from Sherman after this outcome. A player who propels himself by gathering all the slights and oversights around him now has nuclear-grade ammunition to fuel his play. Optimus Prime is coming, and there is nowhere to hide from his wrath. 

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