Genius at work
Even if you were exclusively a fan of the former USFL New Jersey Generals until now, you STILL have probably heard about Richard Sherman and all that transpired on Sunday evening.
There have been countless stories in the press, interviews on TV and, of course, the near three days that Sherman spent trending on Twitter. There seems to be three basic opinions that are being written about Sherman’s antics on Sunday. Here they are in no particular order.
- Who Cares! He’s a pro athlete and a person with free will. He can say whatever he wants and I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to the NFL.
- He should have toned it down a bit. The choke sign and the yelling were too much. He should have calmed down first and then said what he had to say, which he did later on in wonderful fashion.
- He’s an idiot. He’s a thug and he’s a disgrace to the game.
What few have chose to write about is “Why”. Why did Sherman do this? Does his beef with Crabtree, whatever that might be, really justify all this? That’s what I couldn’t wrap my mind around. I kept thinking dang, “What did Crabtree say to him?”
I’ll tell you why, and while doing so, I think I can give you a fourth option when it comes to your feelings on the now-renowned Seattle corner.
Sherman is no dummy. Everyone seems to recognize all of a sudden that he graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications, which is no easy task. He’s extraordinarily gifted with intellect and he’s far more clever than any of us have given him credit for.
I submit to you that what we witnessed Sunday night after Sherman deflected the go-ahead TD pass to his teammate Malcolm Smith was nothing short of one of the greatest personal brand image marketing strategies being launched, EVER! Furthermore, it was planned, calculated, deliberate and maybe even rehearsed.
Think Miley Cyrus folks. After Cyrus twerked her way across stage, the world couldn’t stop talking about her. Her publicity soared. The internet was awash with her image, her music and her brand. She was EVERYWHERE! And where she was, was a long ways from Disneyland.
Well stop, take a deep breath and take a look around, and see what’s happening right now with Sherman. It didn’t really start to dawn on me just what we saw from Sherman until sometime yesterday when I noticed two things.
- A story about how Richard Sherman‘s jersey is now in the top 10 NFL jerseys being sold. He’s also the only defensive player in the top 10 and the third Seahawk in the top 10 behind Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
- An announcement from Sherman’s own website that he was giving away a chance to win a trip for two to the Super Bowl with every purchase from his site.
When I saw those two stories, a light bulb went on for me: I had just fallen for a marketing campaign and I didn’t even realize it. I thought to myself, “Oh my god, the guy really is a genius!”
There may be some genuine bad blood between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree, but what happened on Sunday night was not truly about any ire between those two; Sherman had simply been looking for an opportunity, on a big stage, to pull something like this off. Crabtree was simply the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time when Sherman saw his chance.
What really happened Sunday is that Sherman quite intelligently and quite deliberately took advantage of a huge opportunity to thrust his name, his image and his brand onto the national scene, the likes of which we haven’t seen out of a Seahawks player in their history. And I’m telling you folks, it was something that he planned to do well in advance when the opportunity arose.
Does being a marketing genius and having a willingness to play a bit of the bad boy role make him a bad person in your mind still? I never thought that being smart and clever to make money and a name for yourself made anyone a thug but I’ll let you decide that for yourself. I’ll just leave you with this…
Seattle teams always have been isolated. Fans have complained about it for years. The East-Coast bias, the Northwest bias, no one pays attention to Seattle because it plays in Alaska. You’ve heard them yourself, I’m sure, if you have spent any amount of time in this region.
Sherman just eliminated the distance Seattle is from the masses with one great play and a simple 30-second interview. As a result, even you Generals’ fans know his name, and Sherman is now a NATIONAL star.
The funny thing is, if the Seahaawks win the Super Bowl in New Jersey, Sherman is going to tell the world he’s headed to Disneyland, but I bet he doesn’t scream it this time.