Ric Flair wasn’t a lot of things.
He wasn’t a physically big wrestler (which is what was favored at the time)
He wasn’t particularly athletic.
He wasn’t that technically sound.
But what he understood maybe more than any other wrestler of his time was how to manipulate people with his words. Part of branding yourself is creating a character, sometimes the characters, especially in wrestling, just write themselves.
Other times you have to figure out what works for you. Because before there was Stone Cold Steve Austin there was the Ringmaster and before The Rock there was Rocky Maivia. Steve Austin once said the best characters are the ones that are closest to your real life persona. For Flair, he was living his character. He was a jet flying, limousine riding, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun and because of that people ate it up. He was a bad guy (or heel in wrestling terms) that people liked more than the hero (face). That is hard to master, but if you do, you can turn yourself from just a wrestler into a Icon.
Richard Sherman is a smart guy, you carry a 4.2 GPA at Stanford you aren’t a dummy, so trust me when I tell you he knows exactly what he is doing.
He made a business decision that he was going to let his alter ego run free for public consumption. All NFL players have some form of alter ego that they suppress when they are dealing with the media. It is just how they have been trained for their entire careers. Say the politically correct thing, don’t upset the apple cart and be as media friendly as possible. Those who aren’t find themselves on the low side of endorsements and often villainized by the media who wields a power sword on who is seen as a good guy and who is a bad guy (ask Terrell Owens).
Sherman has taken that power away from them to the point they embrace him (SI.com gave him a column), but the reason he can do that is twofold.
The first is that he has the intelligence to be able to quickly switch from heel to likable person. If you watched his interviews closely after the NFC Championship he knew exactly when to turn it on and when to dial it down. You have to be a smart person to do that. Most are normally dialed all the way up or down, he seamlessly moves through those circles without missing a beat. He reminds me of Jay Z in that regard, still connects with his roots, while being able to interact in that mainstream corporate world.
Secondly, and frankly this is the more important thing, he backs up all the talk on the field. The same way Flair would make these unbelievable matches that forced you to applaud even if you hated his guts. Even if you disagree with his antics, it is hard to argue with Sherman’s on the field success.
I don’t care personally for some of Sherman’s antics and actions, but I recognize what he is doing is a lot for show.
It isn’t an unusual in the world of sports. Deion Sanders, Charles Barkley, Chad Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Floyd Mayweather and many more have more or less done similar things. It works for Sherman and it is good for sports.
If everyone was John Cena, people would lose their mind, you need someone to come in and smash some people with a steel chair to keep things interesting.
A hero is nothing without a villain. Think about your greatest Super Heroes and normally the first thing that comes to mind are their Villains. Batman/Joker, Superman/Lex Luther, Spider-Man/Green Goblin and etc. For goodness sakes Green Goblin killed Spider-Man’s 1st love (technically Spider-Man killed her, but that is another story for another day).
You might not like Richard Sherman and that is perfectly fine, but we need Richard Sherman unless you want two weeks of talking about Omaha?
That is what I thought and since you read all of this, check out The Best of the Nature Boy.