Here’s advice every athlete should heed: “Let your play speak for itself.” Instead, Richard Sherman, the outspoken cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, is at it again, this time in a media sparring match with Patrick Peterson, an All-Pro cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals. Peterson said he was the best cornerback in the NFL, even better than the lauded Sherman, whose job Peterson said was “easier.” Sherman fired back publicly and a who’s-better-than-whom debate ensued, even causing ESPN’s analysts to add their own two cents. Such debate is fun when it happens between fans in a sports bar or when Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon shout each other down on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.It’s far less pleasant when players do it publicly.
Verbal sparring is entertaining on the field and in the locker room. It’s part of sports culture and the life of the game. When an interviewer asks a blunt question to an athlete it’s refreshing to hear an honest answer, not the canned, boring clichés most often proffered. But when the self-touting and arguments happen through the media it comes off as arrogant posturing and in poor taste.
When I read the back-and-forth between Peterson and Sherman it reminded me of the story from Luke 9 when the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest. Jesus responded, “He who is least among you all is the one who is great.” Of course, He was talking about a kind of spiritual greatness, a deeper greatness that doesn’t match this world’s understanding. But it can work in sports, too.
Think back to a couple weeks ago when Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
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