The Content of Character

After last night’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers– a really good game I thought – an outburst by a member of the Seattle squad, Richard Sherman, really ruined the moment for the Seahawks and started – at least one  – Face Book debate about Sherman’s behavior and it was made to be about race almost immediately.

For the record – and I said this on FB last night – I don’t care that he exclaimed that he was the best corner back in the league. I think you MUST think that about yourself to make it – in the NFL and life. If you question your skills, ability or value than others will too and that could easily come back to haunt you.

I get it – you just punched your ticket to the pinnacle of professional sports and let’s face it Sherman’s play at the end of the game locked up Seattle’s win – I believe that if Crabtree caught that pass Seattle would have been so shocked the ‘9ers could have gone for two and won the game in regulation avoiding overtime and securing their spot in the Super Bowl – so, I get that Sherman was excited but unleashing that tirade on national television was inexcusable; forgivable?

Of course. Christ died so that everyone could be forgiven – see John 3:16

But our actions have, they must have, consequences.

I am not black – never have been. I do not know what it is like to be black but I don’t believe that matters. For me, this is a matter of character and character was in short supply in that interview. Now, as far as I could tell the incident was not racially motivated. I don’t feel Sherman went off and screamed “at” a white woman. In fact, his comments were clearly and vehemently directed and Michael Crabtree – also a black man.

Race issue? I think not.

In fact, had Solomon Wilcots or Pam Oliver – who was there ,Wilcots was not –  been the one doing the interview and I think Sherman was so fired up that what came out was going to come out regardless. I am sure Wilcots would not have looked so terrified – Oliver maybe – but I don’t feel Sherman was going off on Erin Andrews – he was just emotional and she just happened to be the reporter assigned to the Seahawks.

This only becomes about race when race is inserted into the equation and I don’t think expecting someone to act professional is in any way expecting someone to “act white” or making it about race. I hope, that I would be saying the same thing had Wes Welker gone off on the Tom Brady, Bill Belichick or the rest of the Patriots organization after the Broncos’ victory. Having class  is not the exclusive property of a single race.

“Professionalism” knows no color.

Barry Sanders never celebrated touchdowns. He did not spike the ball, do a dance or act any different after scoring than on any other play – I believe I heard him say once “act like you’ve been there before.”

I think that’s pretty good advice.

I was not going to write anything about this today – and I certainly did not plan to post this but I was reminded this morning about how and why it is important for everyone to act in a way that demonstrates respect for the guy standing next to you.

I watched a clip of Tony Dungy speaking about Dr. Martin Luther King and I was reminded that neither of those men, both black, had to behave like Sherman did last night and I have never heard anyone, black white, red, yellow, green or otherwise accuse them of “acting white.”

You could certainly make the case that Coach Dungy could have had  a classless “in your face Tampa” moment after winning the Super Bowl with Indianapolis after being fired by the Buccaneers. But he did not he made a choice.

I think it is appropriate, given that today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, that I close with one of his quotes. A quote that, if applied equally to all men and women regardless of their “color” we’d be a whole lot closer to ending many of the racial issues we have in the United States.

Do I believe that they’ll ever be gone completely? Yes, and I look forward to Heaven with palpable anticipation. Just, as I believe Dr. King looked forward to Heaven.

Consider this quote

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

In fairness to this quote and Richard Sherman, I would be wrong if I did not point out that I don’t know Richard Sherman, I don’t know what was said that set him off and I am not judging him as a man, well maybe a bit but that judgment does not come as a result of his skin color.  I would also be remiss if I did not say that it appeared to me that he felt a bit of remorse when Michael Strahan mentioned the incident in the interview that followed.

As always, discussion is welcome, encouraged and wanted.



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