We start tonight with one of the most memorable moments in Seattle sports history:
“I’m the best corner in the game! If you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get!” Richard Sherman told sideline reporter Erin Andrews after the Seahawks beat the 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game.
It was unfiltered and brash, without apology - openly criticized by many outside this city, yet tolerated and even enjoyed by most Seahawks fans around the world.
At the very least, for a number of seasons, we gave Sherman and the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt. Because he helped put Seattle on the map. Because for a number of years, including their Super Bowl Championship season, the Legion of Boom backed up their words as the best defense in the game.
Similarly, Boston fans rarely apologize for controversies like Deflategate or Spygate or the “Evil Empire” moniker they’ve received during their run to six Super Bowls in the last two decades.
Detroit Pistons fans embraced “The Bad Boy” era in the late 80s, as much as Philadelphia embraced “The Broad Street Bullies” which won Stanley Cups in the 1970s. I can go on and on with similar examples.
So if anyone isn’t willing to enjoy the U.S. Women’s National Team winning a second straight World Cup today because of a perceived arrogance of one or two individuals, sure it’s their prerogative, but I’m not sure what to say.
Because what I witnessed over the past few weeks was a collective whole of strong-willed, independent, justifiably confident women who celebrated each other’s successes as teammates should. And as all champions do, they performed at the highest level when the spotlight was the brightest, and the critics were the loudest.
Two years ago, J.J. Watt was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year. For two straight years, the Houston Sports Authority gave him their sportsmanship award. Frankly, it’s a double-standard to chuckle when Watt openly mocked Aaron Rodgers with a “Discount Double Check” celebration after sacking him in a game, but then feign outrage when Alex Morgan sips tea after scoring a goal against England.
I’m all for good sportsmanship and setting the right example for the next generation. But in a world where athletes are under the microscope, and social media is constantly waiting for the next controversy, it might be time for some of us to take a step back and enjoy the successes of our country’s representatives on the world stage.
And barring any egregious mistakes, I’m more than happy to overlook any criticisms of individual players in favor of their effort as a team – a team that not only played for our country, but utterly dominated the field.
In the end, two simple facts outweigh anyone’s opinions, including my own: They are Americans. And they are champions once again.