Richard Sherman, I’ve got some advice regarding an urgent matter: Contact the police. You are the victim of identity theft.
Somebody with an uncanny resemblance to you appeared Thursday morning on the ESPN show “First Take.” This impostor, whoever he is, performed a spot-on impersonation of you, Sherm. He looked like you, sounded like you and was intimately familiar with your achievements on and off the field.
But that wasn’t you on the TV screen, exchanging barbs with co-host Skip Bayless. No way. The guy arguing with Bayless was edgy to the point of insufferable. I know you’re cocky, Sherm — self-confidence is a not-so-secret component of your success — but during your two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, you’ve always managed to straddle a line between mirthful and malicious.
Sure, you chide wide receivers on Sunday afternoons, and then you talk afterwards with a candor that’s refreshing. It’s the reason you’re the go-to guy for a postgame quote (or 200) in the Seahawks’ locker room. It’s why my colleagues and I have come to regard you as the best interview subject around here since George Karl was coaching the Sonics.
(You’d have loved George. He once began his remarks to the media by saying: “Here is why I hate my team ” A coach who’s just watched his team clod-hop for four quarters can be expected to vent a little, but George said this after a victory.)
In any case, Sherm, when you say something that can be construed as an insult, you say it with a smile. You don’t have a
mean streak. You don’t have anger issues. You’re a bright and charming pro football player who happens to enjoy an aspect of the profession — talking about it — that many NFL stars find tedious.
But this Richard Sherman look-alike on ESPN wasn’t having fun during the interview. This Richard Sherman look-alike had an agenda, and it was to embarrass Skip Bayless. Or, as the impostor put it: To “crush” him.
“Whenever you refer to me, speak to me or address me, you should address me as ‘All-Pro Stanford graduate,’ ” the impostor said. “Those are some accomplishments you can aspire to, but you won’t accomplish. You’ve never accomplished anything.”
Of course, Skip being Skip, he returned the volley. The “conversation” was so awkward that the typically obstreperous Stephen A. Smith looked like a judge on one of those daytime-TV courtroom shows, listening to the prattle with an expression that suggested he’d rather be undergoing gum surgery.
“I’ve accomplished more in my field,” countered Bayless, “than you have in yours.”
Hoo boy. Game on.
“I’m at the top of my field,” the Sherman impostor shot back at Bayless. “I’m All-Pro, one of the best 22 players in the NFL I don’t think you are the best 22 anything in sports, in media, in anything. You think more of yourself than you can actually prove. In my 24 years of life, I’m better at life than you are.”
He wasn’t finished.
“I’m intelligent enough and capable enough to understand you’re an ignorant, pompous, egotistical cretin,” he told Bayless. “I’m gonna crush you on this in front of everybody.”
It was eerie, Sherm. Here was this jerk on ESPN, purporting to be Richard Sherman, and as expertly as he mimicked your voice, it was obvious he wasn’t the real Richard Sherman, the product of a hardscrabble neighborhood in Compton, Calif. who earned a scholarship to Stanford, graduated with a communications degree, and went on to become the kick-butt cornerback acknowledged as the heart and soul of the Seahawks’ defense.
That Richard Sherman is an authentic wonder — a role model for kids, and an inspiration for their parents. That Richard Sherman makes me proud to be a sportswriter. There aren’t many occupations affording rumpled old duffs like me a chance to converse with some of the best and brightest young talents in the land, and I’ve got one of them.
Between us, Sherm? I’m a little scared. Is everything OK? I was waiting for you to go on Twitter and clarify that the smug, joyless person who taunted the smug, joyless co-host of “First Take” wasn’t you. I’m still waiting.
So take my advice and call the police. Track down this rapscallion who shows up on TV and has the audacity to call himself Richard Sherman.
Confront him. Ask him: “What’s your deal?”
On second thought, don’t even bother with questions. Just do it.
Crush him.john.mcgrath@ thenewstribune.com