Does the humble athlete even exist anymore? The person that just does their overpaid job and shuts up? The answer is yes, there are a few out there -- Derek Jeter, Big Papi, Tom Brady just to name a few. Those guys understand that they’ve been given a gift and treat it with respect and respect the people that elevate them to a level of stardom. How do they do it? By being humble. Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit was a home run. What did he do after the game? He thanked the fans for standing by him, he thanked the organization, and even worked in a little bit about past players setting the mark for him to achieve -- my definition of a class act. When the Boston Marathon was bombed, Big Papi was front and center rallying the citizens of Boston. While I can’t really print what he said, make no bones about, it his statement was front and center. So we know it’s possible for a pro jock to see beyond their own egos.
So when Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman jumps up at the last second and knocks a game-winning touchdown out of the air and into the hands of one of his own teammates to clinch the win, it would be his time to shine. If it were me and I was approached by sideline reported Erin Andrews and asked to go through the final play I would have probably said, "It was a hard fought game that could have gone either way. For the same amount of money I’m not in the right place at the right time and Michael Crabtree comes down with that ball and you’re talking to him." I would most likely also pull a page from the Jeter handbook and thank the fans and even thank the other team for a tremendous game. But that’s not what happened. In case you missed it, Sherman acted like someone off his meds with Tourette syndrome by saying, "I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me." When Andrews asked who was talking about him, he replied, "Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’ll shut it for you real quick. LOB (Legion of Boom)!"
So, I ask again, does the humble champion exist anymore? The guy that in the face of greatness calms his inner self so that when he’s asked about his awesome achievement, he simply thanks his mom? But this kind of brashness isn’t new; it’s been around for years, and for years nobody’s liked it. They hated Muhammed Ali who proclaimed himself "The Greatest." But for the most part that was post-fight hype. Joe Namath guaranteed a win in Superbowl III, and he backed it up, but nobody liked it. Rickey Henderson stole base number 939 to break Lou Brock’s record, and declared himself "the greatest of all time," with Lou Brock in attendance. Some might say it’s a slap in the face, but again -- Henderson was never one to mince words. Now none of this takes away from anyone’s talent, but it does take away from the humility.
When I watch these displays, I’m often caught off guard and I’m not sure why. I should come to accept it, but it’s hard. You would think being rewarded with millions of dollars a year to play a game would be enough. You would think that somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind of a guy like Richard Sherman, he could understand that his simple batted ball is just that. While men and women are serving this country and only being paid around $28,000 a year and teachers hover in the $30,000 range. These are the folks that I would tolerate a boastful statement from, but will most likely never get, because they are humble -- What the hell is up with that?