"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman: Profiles in Greatness

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 11
Publish Date: 
Thu, 01/30/2014


“It's hard to be humble,” Muhammad Ali rationalized, “when you're as great as I am.”

In Sunday’s contest between number ones, the Super Bowl’s two most visible faces – Bronco’s Peyton Manning and Seahawk’s Richard Sherman – are case studies of Ali’s theory.

Manning is football’s undisputed heavyweight champion whose aww-shucks humility belies – and explains – his unrivaled ownership of five NFL MVP awards. Quick to credit his teammates, even after a 7-touchdown performance, the 13-time Pro-Bowler and comeback king leaves it to others to laud his game.

With his legacy on the line in his third Super Bowl, Manning is a sentimental favorite, even in Las Vegas where bettors pushed Manning’s Broncos from underdogs to favored team.

There’s also anti-Seahawk sentiment, fueled by Sherman’s nationally televised Ali-like rant. The breast-beating cornerback’s noise rivals Seattle’s “12th-Man,” and with an NFL-leading 20 interceptions since debuting in 2011, Sherman’s bite is as fierce as his bark.

Moments after his acrobatic championship clinching play in the “Bully Bowl” against San Francisco, Sherman trumpeted, “I’m the best corner in the game,” calling vanquished receiver Michael Crabtree “me-di-o-cre.” His unsportsmanlike conduct sent Twitter aflutter prompting even John McCain to declare for the Broncos “because I don’t like that ‘loudmouth’ from Seattle.”

Before accepting the oft-tweeted critique that Sherman is an overpaid, classless embarrassment to professional sports, Think Again.  Judge the hyper-competitive Sherman on the content of his character, not the color of his commentary. Beneath the braggart’s veneer is an inspiring life story derived from disciplined parenting, academic focus, hard work, and earned success. 

A Denver billboard boasts, “Denver has a Champ, but Seattle has a Chump,” referring to Bronco’s star cornerback Champ Baily. It resonates, even for Sherman who has studied and admires Baily. Chastened by blistering criticism and an NFL fine, the brainy sparkplug of Seattle’s intimidating secondary – Legion of Boom – regrets that his adrenaline-infused, déclassé post-game antics overshadowed his team’s football feats. 

Sherman’s braggadocio also eclipsed his life’s remarkable trajectory from drug and gang-infested Compton, California, to high school salutatorian, to Stanford scholar-athlete, to renown as one of the NFL’s best defenders – and he’s only 25-years old. Squeaky clean and devoid of profanity, Sherman’s one brush with scandal -- a suspension last year for using the amphetamine Adderall – was dismissed.

In contrast to the sporting world’s men-children, Sherman is a magnetic and thoughtful personality whose social-media posts reflect well-ordered priorities:

Family orientation.

“Blanket Coverage,” the name of his charitable foundation which supports at-risk youth.

#GivingBackToTheCity (a frequently used Twitter hash tag), which he did on Christmas day at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Motivational messages like Muhammad Ali’s maxim, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

And gratitude, like the post: “Blessed to make the Pro Bowl with my brothers! We had this goal at the start of the year and accomplished it! To God be the Glory!” 

There are few who rival Sherman’s ability to reach and reform kids like those he still counsels in Compton. This is the African-American community’s greatest challenge, considering black males suffer the highest rates of fatherless homes, high school dropouts, poverty, arrests, incarceration and unemployment in America.

Though a compelling role model, No. 1 NFL draft pick Manning was born with a pigskin-covered spoon in his mouth as the scion of a football dynasty headed by NFL quarterback Archie Manning.

Peyton’s path to greatness was paved with hard work, intelligence, and perseverance in overcoming career-endangering neck injuries. But as the son of a garbage-truck driver, Sherman’s impressive story is more likely to inspire black youth. Like Ali, Sherman is a driven, up-from-nothing champion eager to prove his worth in a world where he’s felt doubted -- being a late-round draft pick still plagues him.

In an era littered with narcissistic celebrity-seekers eager to parlay airbrushed personas into power and money, Sherman stands out as authentically accomplished, albeit in need of a Dale Carnegie course. As disgraced New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Texas governor aspirant Wendy Davis proved last week, those who appear perfect are usually the best deceivers.

Sherman isn’t perfect. He just lacks humility, which Manning can easily remedy by throwing a touchdown past the formidable ball hawk. Then Sherman can learn what a more sage Ali eventually concluded. “I never thought of losing,” he mused, “but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me.  We all have to take defeats in life.”

To realize his life-coaching potential -- and be deserving of adulation -- Sherman needs the humility that comes with defeat.  To achieve legendary status, pundits insist Manning must win this Super Bowl. 

Think Again – Wouldn’t it be nice if both Sherman and Manning achieved the greatness they deserve? Go Broncos!

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I read the article, but gave

I read the article, but gave little credit to what the author had to say after I read "With his legacy on the line in his third Super Bowl…." what a stupid statement. Really? it all goes on the line - 5 MVPs, 3 trips to the SB, single season touchdown record, 13 Pro-Bowls, etc., etc.
Go Broncos!

Really? “I’m the best corner


“I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me. [...] Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.” - Richard Sherman

Sherman did the rant to

Sherman did the rant to attract attention - he´s been mouthing all year. Granted that corners need a strong ego and he has one - I believe he´s working on keeping his name before the public. This will come in handy when the football career is over, to get into a second career in media. He is very intelligent and all of this is part of his plan.

A second post aimed at those

A second post aimed at those who posted without reading the article

FTA: "We had this goal at the start of the year and accomplished it! To God be the Glory!”" - Richard Sherman

Calling him insane and a disgrace almost leaves me speechless.

Regarding this comment: "I

Regarding this comment: "I suspect review of his courses and grades would reveal just a bit of AA treatment"

I don´t say this very often but as far as I´m concerned your post is racist. Why are you assuming that he has to be the result of AA? You don´t think being extraordinarily good at sports will get any person, regardless of color, into Stanford?

You ought to read about him. He started out in Compton, CA where most kids don´t graduate high school and he not only graduated but excelled in several sports. Fast forward - now he´ in the Superbowl. Isn´t this what we conservatives want for people? I do. Hard work and success. As for the rant - there is more to the story, he had been dissed in Phoenix by a 49er not long before this game. However, I wrote the rant off to the high emotions of the game and his game saving play.

Off the field he works with kids in the Seattle area to encourage their success.

Sherman, no matter a Stanford

Sherman, no matter a Stanford grad, is mentally disturbed. And I suspect review of his courses and grades would reveal just a bit of Affirmative Action treatment

True humility, which is a

True humility, which is a quality desperately lacking in our nation's leadership today, was expressed within this column. The youth of our nation are sorely in need of such example, whether it comes from Manning, Wilson, Sherman or some other athlete willing to exhibit it.

"We had this goal at the start of the year and accomplished it! To God be the Glory!”" - Richard Sherman

Such an expression, shared by such outstanding athletes, could be a uniting idea for greatness in any facet of life.

If Richard Sherman was as

If Richard Sherman was as great as he thinks he is, he would have no need to act like a thug, bray like a donkey, and strut around with his choking antics, gloating when he does something right. He could learn a thing or two from the great Jerry Rice. There was a really great player, The Best, and he was the most humble man alive; you never saw the great Jerry Rice acting like a thug. He was a gentleman to his finger tips.

Great essay! Although Manning

Great essay!

Although Manning will likely win his fifth MVP soon, he currently owns only four.

I think it is worth noting that Manning's character is extraordinary. After being let go by the Colts and facing very significant neck surgeries, he climbed the mountain again to achieve the greatest statistical season as a QB in history. He was also recognized as the most admirable character in the NFL by his peers. If you talk with his coaches and teammates from the Colts or the Broncos, he is identified as one who conducts himself "above the rest." Quarterbacks carry much greater responsibilities than cornerbacks. It is a much harder job. The pressure is greater. The leadership responsibilities are far greater. Although Sherman is a testimonial to freedom and responsibility, Manning is a testimonial to leadership and character. They are in two different categories.

There is an old saying that goes like this: What comes out when you squeeze an orange? Orange juice. Why? Because that's what is inside.

When you squeeze Manning, you get calm professionalism, integrity, and character. When you squeeze Sherman, you get pride and rage. It is leadership and character that defines heroes apart from the masses. Manning is a hero. Sherman is in a different and lesser category.

Awesome – thanks Melanie.

Awesome – thanks Melanie. I'm huge Peyton Manning fan (as I was a John Elway fan when he won his back to back Super Bowls). That’s saying a lot for a Jets fan like me. Love the Manning family. Sherman is another standout in my book. He also writes for SI I believe. Smart guy who shouldn't be completely judged by his post game rant.

I'll be rooting for Peyton and your Broncos though. Good luck!

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