Maximus yells at the audience in the aftermath of the 49er's-Seahawks NFC Championship
Maximus yells at the audience in the aftermath of the 49er’s-Seahawks NFC Championship

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

Russell Crowe barked out these iconic lines in the critically acclaimed “Gladiator”. But his words could just as easily be uttered after every football game.

For about 20 to 25 weeks a year we cheer for big hits, we laugh when our QB mocks the opposing signal caller and we get angry at our OWN PLAYER when he get’s hurt.

Simply put, we idolize a barbaric sport. Yet we, as the audience, act surprised and appalled when someone like Richard Sherman has an outburst like the one he had last night.

I cannot be the only one that sees the hypocrisy in that.

First and foremost, I am not condoning what Richard Sherman did. But what did you expect when you asked a player, a DEFENSIVE PLAYER, at the peak of his emotions, to walk you through the game-winning play 30 SECONDS AFTER IT HAPPENED?

We as football fans need to decide if we’re going to accept football as a whole. We cannot pick and choose. You’re either in or out.

Have you ever played professional football? I haven’t. But former NFL rushing champion and MVP Priest Holmes has.

In a wonderful blog post, Joe Posnanski recounts a conversation he had with Holmes.

“Do you have any idea what kind of mental state I have to get myself into to play a game?” he would ask.

“No,” I would say.

“It’s pretty extreme,” he said. “It’s like I have to become another person. It’s like I have to become a warrior. We all do.”

And this is coming from a player that is paid to GET HIT. This man had defenders flying at his knees and aiming for his head. Now imagine the mental state a defender like Richard Sherman, whose lifeline is in making life miserable for opposing players, must be like.

Football players, especially defenders, aren’t paid to be classy or nice. They are paid to make plays. You want to watch a nice guy play sports? Go watch Leo Messi.

(The irony of the above comment is not lost on me. However, football and soccer are two distinct sports. I’d be a fool to expect beautiful run of play in football and hard tackles in soccer. They are different.)

Football, more so than any other professional sport is a violent one. So violent in fact, that it’s former players are suing the league. So violent in fact that a former player KILLED himself last year in the parking lot of his stadium.

By no means do I mean to make light of either of the above scenarios, but I hope that laying context around the violent sport we all adore will help put Sherman’s actions in perspective.

Richard Sherman may be from Compton. But I don’t think he’s a thug. He graduated second in his high school class and is a Stanford alum. He may be uncensored. But I don’t think he’s classless. I think he’s a smart, educated dude who channels his inner villain every Sunday, and backs it up.

Forbes’ Tommy Tomlinson said it best on the dual standard we hold our athletes to:

“But we — the media, and fans in general — don’t know what we want. We rip athletes for giving us boring quotes. But if they say what they actually feel, we rip them for spouting off or showing a lack of class.”

Again, we find ourselves on the edge of hypocrisy. You can’t rip Andrew Luck for being boring in post game interviews and then get angry at Richard Sherman for scaring the bejeezus out of Erin Andrews.

In reality I think, this whole episode has been blown out of proportion. What fascinates me however, is that it tells much more about us an audience, than about the NFL or the Seahawks.

This isn’t golf guys. It’s organized violence. You either accept it and watch, or don’t and go play footsie.

Maybe now you’re entertained.