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First Take: Skip Bayless Loans Seahawks' Richard Sherman Some Love
Call me an Internet kid, but the first person I thought of when Richard Sherman was going all Randy Savage on Erin Andrews and her ESPN camera crew last night was… Skip Bayless.
(That means I'm immature, of course. I take the game and I turn into a game outside the game. I'm just that kind of fan.)
But I knew Skip would have an opinion and I knew First Take would just HAVE TO talk about this morning. I flocked to Facebook to see what my friends were saying about it, as I'm sure a bunch of us did. There were the typical wanna old-school boys blasting Sherman for being a jerk. (Fair enough.) There were the typical pre-emptive responses to the predictable slices of hate, too, with others telling you Sherman was entertaining and you should enjoy it. And there were Seahawks fans in particular… I mean, they're pretty full of it, but they're passionate.
But Skip has a history with Sherman, and an embarrassing one at that. Last year, Señor Cornerback went on First Take and decided to turn it into a segment of "I Know You Are But What Am I?"
What does a receiver have to gain from challenging, or comparing himself to, a talking head, you ask? Nothing, in either case. And Bayless is a TV troll, perhaps, but he's a successful troll.
(Boy, does that remind you of anyone?)
So I knew Bayless would have a few thoughts on Sherman, his play, his antics, and everything about him.
Turns out, he was pretty honest. And pretty respectful:
GREAT play by Richard Sherman.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 20, 2014
Richard Sherman deserved a penalty for taunting before Crabtree shoved him out of the way.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 20, 2014
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and especially to their fans.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 20, 2014
Richard Sherman made the NFL's Play of Year last nite. Cinched his status as NFL's Best CB. Unfortunately, not enough focus on THAT.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 20, 2014
Certainly, he was more respectful to Sherman than Sherman has been to Bayless:
Although I will agree with Grantland's Bill Simmons on one thing: that segment was embarrassing for all involved.
Now here's Bayless this morning, from the First Take podcast on ESPN, introduced with the question "Did Richard Sherman go too far?"
(*In case you missed it, Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick-thrown pass away from Michael Crabtree, and the tip was intercepted by Sherman's teammate, Malcolm Smith. Sherman then approached Crabtree, who shoved him in the face. And then Sherman, in a Richter Scale-shattering interview with Erin Andrews, called Crabtree a "sorry receiver".)
"Yes, Richard Sherman did go too far... To me, that was the signature play that cinched Richard Sherman's status as the best cornerback in the National Football League.
"And yet, instead of letting that play speak for itself or yell for itself, Richard Sherman obviously immediately shifted the focus by taunting Michael Crabtree, continuing his beef with Michael Crabtree. Then, giving the choke sign, he said was aimed at Colin Kaepernick. And then, continuing to rip Michael Crabtree in his post-game press conferences and on Twitter.
"That should all be beneath Richard Sherman's dignity at this point. He should start letting his game speak for itself."
In his finish, Bayless gave Sherman some love for the cornerback's insane set of skills and for the way he fought his was to the top of the NFL's defensive food chain.
But, Bayless said, he needs a different strategy now... now that he is the best in the game.
"I wish yesterday, in his signature moment, he had just stood back, played it classy, and let that play scream for itself," he said. "That's all anyone should have been talking about, and unfortunately, we're talking about all the extra-curricular right now."
Give Bayless some credit here. He could have easily turned this into a story about himself and his past history with a player, like he does when he brings Tim Tebow up every time a left-handed person appears on television.
But instead, he removed himself from the situation and played it cool. He spoke his mind, but there's nothing wrong with that.
And given what a lot of other people said about Richard Sherman last night, Bayless was rather respectful in comparison.
(Additionally, I think this could be the first time all year the two First Take hosts – certainly Cari Champion – even watched a Seahawks game. They love Tom Brady. They love Peyton Manning. For some reason, they love the Cowboys and Roberto Griffin III. But I'd take anything they say about Seattle with a grain of salt. They're just simply not important to most of America.)