Houston Rockets superstar Dwight Howard is among the slew of professional athletes to chime in about the controversy surrounding Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
“I didn’t see what happened,” Howard, an eight-time All-Star, told MemphiSport after last Saturday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. “But when he’s on the field, he’s amped up.”
In the waning moments of Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers versus Seattle, Sherman deflected a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree that was intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith and effectively punched the Seahawks’ ticket to Super Bowl 48 with a 23-17 victory.
What happened prior to the Seahawks’ victory formation quickly overshadowed what was a dramatic comeback by the NFC’s top-seeded team, which earned its second Super Bowl berth and will face the Denver Broncos Sunday at 5:25 p.m. CST at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N. J.
Sherman ran toward Crabtree and, after slapping him on the backside, extended his hand for a handshake only to be met by a Crabtree shove to the face. After displaying the choking gesture as if to say the 49ers blew it, Sherman went on a trash-talking rant during the postgame news conference, saying among other things that Crabtree is a “sorry” and “mediocre” receiver.
While the All-Pro cornerback was slapped with a $7,875 fine by the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting, Howard said he felt Sherman’s actions have been blown out of proportion and that they aren’t indicative of the type of person he is off the field.
Drafted by the Seahawks in the fifth round (154th overall) in 2011, Sherman, a Compton, Calif. native, starred at Stanford from 2008-2011, but earned his degree in communications in three years.
“He talks trash,” Howard said of Sherman. “I mean, that’s who he is. But that doesn’t mean he’s that type of person (off the field).”
As Howard tells it, a number of players, like Sherman, are judged unjustifiably because of the way they go about demonstrating their competitive drive and passion for their respective sport.
“I think people view how we act on the court and on the field and think we’re that way all the time,” Howard said. “A lot of times, we are totally different. When we get on the court, that’s our time to let loose, to be free. But off the court, we’re human beings. I don’t know what he said, really. I just know he got in trouble for saying it. If you feel a certain way and you feel you’re the best at what you do, then there’s nothing wrong with it. You’ve got to have that confidence in who you are and he’s that confident that he’s the best at his position and, you know, I’m rooting for him.”
Having signed as a free agent with the Rockets in the offseason after one tumultuous campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard hinted that a majority of the discussions surrounding Sherman’s actions during the NFC Championship game is media-driven, largely because the NFL’s featured game is about to take place.
“I just think it’s because it’s the Super Bowl,” Howard said. “You’ve got to have stories going into the Super Bowl, so that’s something to talk about.”