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Thoughts on Richard Sherman’s Ranting

I watched Richard Sherman’s rant following the Seahawk’s defeat of the San Francisco’s 49’s. I didn’t watch the entire game. I am not a football fan. However, while watching Sherman’s rant, I turned to Lee, my faux-husband, and said, “Go Broncos.”

Two days later, after reading many articles on the subject of Sherman’s rant including his apology, I am still pulling for the Denver Broncos in the upcoming Super Bowl. I arrived at this decision for several reasons. These are my reasons and only my reasoning, if you disagree, that is your right and I respect that.

I know how badly these men want to play football. I worked for the long defunct World Football League. Yeah, I am woman of age. When they came to town, I was hired to be the PR Director’s assistant for the World Football League’s Charlotte Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets were the former New York Stars football team which overnight became the Charlotte Hornets.

This was long before women were allowed in the locker rooms. I had the credentials and I could have stepped inside their sacred space, but I had seen naked men before and I had been hollered at often by construction workers. I was thirty and did not care to plow that field. I left it for the next generation of women and they have my support.

Working for a football team taught me a lot about the players desire to play the game, the joy and the cruelties of the game. When the Hornets lost and they did, the team owner, Upton Bell, always sent me to Belmont Abbey University (where the team practiced) to meet the returning team. I was the also the one they sent when the paychecks did not arrive. The team knew that if I turned up the news was bad.

In the end, I referred to my trips to the Abbey as a venture to menopause manor. There is nothing more awful than a player who has just lost a game. When this happens, they do not simply walk away…they replay it in their heads for days and months, even years. Each loss causes career concerns.

It is a pitiful sight watching careers end, especially in the beleaguered World Football League that did not last much longer than a July Fourth fireworks display. I met many who played with the mighty Jets led by Joe Namath. Then, they were playing on hopes and dreams to keep their careers afloat.

The Charlotte Hornets football players were a great bunch and I cared for them. I noticed then and I am sure it is still prevalent now that the owners treat them like paid prostitutes or enslaved gladiators. The movie about Dallas football came out soon after my football career ended and I watched it with empathy knowing how true it portrayed the game.

One of my favorite team players was a big, tall gentle giant who was the only football player who voluntarily travelled with me to meet a group of physically challenged children. I will never forget how wonderful he was with the children, but I have lost his

name in the pages of time. I look back now and remember riding with him in his sterling white Rolls Royce into South Carolina to meet the children. He was just a great guy. I respected him.

It was the late 1970s, he was a black soft-spoken gentleman. I thought nothing of hopping in the car with him. Even while playing for a losing league and a failing team, he took time for the children. He was a star player, but I have also forgotten his team number so I cannot guess which position he played. He played hard in practice and on the field. I never heard him curse, though surely he did. We all did. It was survival time.

Since then, I have measured all football players beside my gentle giant. With this in mind, Richard Sherman shrinks to the size of Thom Thumb. You see it is a man’s choice to be a gentleman no matter his circumstances.

Many have defended Richard Sherman. One sports writer excuses Sherman’s antics by comparing him to famed wrestlers’ antics. I do agree that football players put their brains and bodies at extreme risks and some fans love it. In the passing years, the team players have become more brazen in their bragging and their antics off field. I am so sorry for this society’s worship of super heroes. It creates false illusions and ruins lives.

Still, many of the excuses for Richard Sherman also reminded me of a farm worker from my hometown, Shuffletown, North Carolina. Let me say first, Richard Sherman has been heralded as a supporter of charities and a good honest man off the field. I believe this about Mr. Sherman.

I mention the old farm worker because of one thing…men still wink at other men’s misdeeds if they are good and work hard at their chosen professions. This is a statement on the male culture that still survives today. If a man is good at what he does, other men often excuse their badass actions with a wink and shrug.

The farm worker was hired by every farmer in the area because he was such a good worker. It was whispered that he drank and beat his wife. But forty or more years after his death I asked a Shuffletown elder about the tragedies surrounding the hard working man. The elder replied, “I don’t know about that. All I know is that he was a hard-working man.”

I knew plenty of hard-working football players and coaches who didn’t know where their next paycheck was to be found. Some of them were stinkers, but as for my fated football team, the Charlotte Hornets, the majority were brave gentlemen in the face of desperation. I cannot help but remember my mighty gentle giant who rode with me that day and wonder why men do not encourage other men to become gentlemen instead of sports personalities filled with ranting, raging hormones that can act out worse than the fabled menopausal woman overcome with PMS carrying a hack saw.