JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the king of New York.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman is a clown in the Super Bowl hype machine.
Clown time is over.
Hate to break this to you, Mr. Sherman. But the Broncos are laughing at you.
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“Sherman, Sherman, Sherman,” said Denver defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey, stealing a movie line from “The Nutty Professor.”
Manning leads by example and can intimidate teammates without raising his voice. His MVP awards do the talking.
“I’ve been nervous around him since I met him. And I’m still nervous. I don’t want to mess up,” Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas said Monday.
Peyton Manning Face is the most famous frown in football, and it’s a look worth 1,000 hollow words from Sherman. Smack talk makes for a good sound bite. But it doesn’t win football games.
“When you were a kid, you had a neighbor who always wanted to play you outside in the street,” Broncos tight end Julius Thomas said. “And if you let him beat you, he was going to keep on talking. He was going to keep on ringing that doorbell, saying: ‘Come on, give me more.’ You can’t be focused on what somebody is saying to you. We have so much to focus on (during the Super Bowl), words will be the last thing.”
At this Super Bowl, somebody has to be the adult here. We know it’s not Sherman. He’s amusing. He’s harmless.
But do not be fooled by his Stanford diploma. Is Sherman brilliant? Please. Anybody with a handful of seeds can attract pigeons to a park bench in New York City. Sherman knows all he has to do at the Super Bowl is stand in front of a microphone, and the lazy, bloated media will be eating out of his hand.
After a brilliant play — swatting away a pass in the end zone intended for San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree — that punched the Seahawks’ ticket to the Super Bowl, Sherman went out of his way to show up Crabtree on the field and disrespect him during a television interview. Popping a testosterone gasket certainly did not make Sherman a thug, but can we also pardon America for wondering if a sore winner might be wise to lose a little of his anger?
Trying to milk the Super Bowl fortnight out of his 15 seconds of infamy, Sherman cribbed all the good lines from a classic unapologetic apology. After briefly taking responsibility for his words, Sherman went to diversionary tactics quicker than he jumps a pass route to make an interception. He suggested anybody who found his tirade in poor taste might be a racist, and added hockey players have far worse anger-management issues. When backed in a corner by your own stupidity, sometimes moral equivalence is the only way out. While Sherman trashed Crabtree, he’s smart enough to know those bullying tactics won’t faze Manning. “You can’t get in Peyton’s head,” Sherman recently joked. “If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.”
After leading Denver with 1,480 receiving yards and being selected to the Pro Bowl for the second straight year, Thomas doesn’t have to scream at America how great he is.
“It’s not about being boasty and making sure everybody knows you make a play. It’s about trying to help your team,” said Thomas, who won’t talk trash with Sherman.
“I think it’s pointless,” he said.
In January, the streets of New York can be colder than the devil’s home, frozen over. The championship game will be played at a truck stop in New Jersey. But, in a lot of ways, the Big Apple is the perfect spot for Super Bowl hype. It’s as subtle as a cab horn honking. Hurry up and wait for something to happen. Hey, we’re all in a hurry to get a story here, lady.
This week, the hype is all about Manning vs. Sideshow Sherman.
And it’s no contest.
Even in these made-you-look times, substance beats style. Every time. Over the din of the Super Bowl hype machine, here’s what Sherman can learn from Manning:
When you’re league MVP, there’s no need to be boasty.