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Seahawks’ Richard Sherman an enlightening rod

Updated: February 28, 2014 6:34AM



JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Conducting his struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline instead of in the muck of bitter and disparaging contempt, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman sounded more like Martin Luther King on Sunday than the raving maniac who berated Michael Crabtree and made his team’s greatest moment all about him.

While Peyton Manning arrived with the bigger cachet, Sherman was the star of the show as the Broncos and Seahawks arrived in New Jersey for a week of preparation for Super Bowl XLVIII next Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

It’s an intriguing matchup of the best offensive team in the NFL against the best defensive team. But it was Sherman’s appearance that drew the biggest crowd — 10 video cameras and at last 50 reporters were there to see if the real Richard Sherman indeed was the intelligent kid who escaped Compton, Calif., to graduate from Stanford in 31/2 years and not the . . . uh, angry guy who ripped Crabtree as a ‘‘sorry’’ and ‘‘mediocre’’ receiver in the aftermath of the Seahawks’ NFC Championship Game victory over the 49ers.

And he did not disappoint. He opened with an impromptu toast — upon request by an active-duty U.S. Army soldier — to the armed forces that will be played to them during the Super Bowl.

‘‘We appreciate all your hard work and dedication and sacrifice and thank you for everything you do for our country and for us and fighting for our freedom,’’ Sherman said. ‘‘We appreciate it.’’

As it turned out, the only consternation in the 20-minute interview was a near confrontation between a photographer who unwittingly got in the way of some of the TV cameras and the frustrated cameramen who lost their shot.

Already, the Crabtree episode is in the past, and while not forgotten, it certainly isn’t the albatross it could’ve been. Sherman will be an attraction all week, but he won’t be a sideshow. He has benefitted from the experience.

‘‘It did have some effect on opening up the channels of communication and [eliciting] conversation and dialogue,’’ Sherman said. ‘‘I think I had some impact on it, and I want to have a positive impact. I want people to understand that everybody should be judged by their character and who they are as a person and not by the color of their skin.

‘‘That’s something we’ve worked to get past as a country, and we’re continuing to work on. It’s healthy. Everything that happened — all the people that tweeted what they tweeted, it ends up turning around to be a positive because it opens the discussion back up, and people become more educated. Anytime you get more knowledge, you’re more powerful as a person.’’

Sherman, however, still is a touchy subject.

‘‘Look, I’m not going to get into anybody else,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said when asked if he had advised his team against a Sherman-like rant this week.

Earlier Sunday, Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, discussing the potential for media distraction during Super Bowl week, said he wouldn’t want to be Sherman this week. But Sherman, who turns 26 in March, was very comfortable — not flinching even once when grilled about the Crabtree incident.

‘‘I still enjoy [the interview sessions],’’ he said, ‘‘because you’re constantly learning [and] growing as a person — constantly figuring out how the world works, how you can affect the world and how your words affect kids. I want to affect kids and want to influence and inspire kids to reach their full potential and live their life goals and make the world a better place. If I can do that on this stage, it’s a great blessing.’’

Sherman had his moment. He learned from it. Others learned from it. And we all know Sherman a lot better today than we did 10 days ago, which is a good thing.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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