Even in another country, Hawks’ Sherman gets noticed

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comApril 11, 2013 

I’d like to thank the Seahawks for the gift of Richard Sherman.

Picture the task of winnowing column options Wednesday morning. Let’s see, the night before I’d watched the Mariners give up 16 runs in front of the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history.

Or maybe I could examine the Seahawks’ acquisition of quarterback Brady Quinn, and weigh the question of whether it will be Quinn or Josh Portis who will be No. 2 on the depth chart, only to never see a snap behind starter Russell Wilson.

And then across the wire comes a story with the topic tagged: Richard Sherman says half the NFL takes Adderall.

Thank you, Richard Sherman, Patron Saint of the Slow News Day.

It turns out that near the bottom of a story about Sherman’s feel-good appearance at a Surrey, B.C., elementary school, he is quoted as saying: “About half the league takes it (Adderall) and the league has to allow it.”

Adderall, according to Wikipedia, is “a psychostimulant medication that contains amphetamine, used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

It happens to be banned by the NFL. It is also reportedly the drug that got Sherman suspended by the league last fall, before his appeal on the ruling was upheld.

This quote, though, is enough to generate copy and commentary across two countries, and might have half the players in the NFL pointing to the other half.

The man has been a copy-generating machine from the start.

He’s got that intriguing personal history, going from the inner-city to Stanford just to prove to disadvantaged kids that it’s possible.

Then he sticks in the NFL as a low draft pick capable of making game-changing plays almost every Sunday, and then intelligent and articulate enough to be the go-to quote in the locker room afterward.

And now, in the offseason, he can get people talking even if he’s in Canada on a community outreach junket.

It was part of NFL Canada’s Take an NFL Player to School program. Sherman arrived at the house of the contest winner for breakfast and then took him to school in a limo. Every kid in the school got some giveaways and the school received athletic equipment and a $5,000 grant for technology.

Admirable effort, Richard Sherman. But it will be drowned out by the buzz created by the Adderall comment.

Half the NFL may or may not take the drug, but for a while it appeared that half the Seahawks secondary was taking it when cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Sherman both failed random drug tests last season. And that was after rookie safety Winston Guy was suspended earlier in the season.

Browner did his four-week sentence, but Sherman’s appeal was upheld when it was discovered there had been problems with his specimen cup.

Sherman’s breakthrough season, in just his second year in the league, ended up with his recognition as All-Pro. Fully deserved, from my perspective. He led the league in passes successfully defensed and had three breakups in the playoff game at Atlanta that were highlight worthy.

In the aftermath of the season, he verbally sparred with an ESPN opinionista and let the exchange get personal. Cooler heads would remind Sherman that little can be gained by dignifying low debate.

Some athletes intentionally generate controversy on the theory that it bolsters their trademark and marketability. I don’t think that’s what Sherman is about. This guy has things to say; the league gives him the platform and the First Amendment protects his right to do so.

Sometimes it’s the guys out there on the edge who are the first to ring the bell at the sight of an onrushing iceberg. Sometimes they’re the prophets and seers. Sometimes they are just jousting with shadows and making noise.

They are relevant only as long as their talents make them so, and they have to be on-target enough to retain any credibility. If they toss out nonsense all the time, they’ll be ignored. Or, as likely, they’ll be considered qualified for their own column or talk show.

Sometimes the reputation overwhelms the context, and the headline is disproportionate to the message. This one could be a toss-off comment at the end of an interview, when “about half the league” looks sensational as printed words, but might have actually been an exaggeration for effect. I bet I’ve seen that a million times.

More concerning is the quote, presumably accurate, that the league should allow the drug. According to Sherman’s bio, his degree from Stanford was in communications, not medicine or pharmacy. So others might offer better evaluation of the drug’s appropriate usage.

It might very well turn out to be a worthwhile discussion.

In the meantime, Sherman remains a player who Seahawks fans can love on game days in the fall.

And columnists can love for midweek topics in April.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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