Plenty has been said about Richard Sherman’s post-game interview with Erin Andrews two weeks ago; it has spiraled out into larger debates including race, humility and role-modeling. For me though, the interesting dimension has been the efficient words that Sherman used. In a few sentences he told a story, a tale charged with emotion, that eclipsed the peripheral world outside of my television. I had to care about his words, because of how much he cared. The experience passed in well under a minute, but it left me scrambling to make judgments of character, googling for details about his war of words with Michael Crabtree and hunting YouTube for parodies of what I had just seen.
We associate the word “yelp” with the sound a dog makes if you accidentally step on a paw, but it originates from the Old English word “gelpan” which means to boast. It doesn’t require much imagination to see a commonality between warriors yelping about their deeds in Anglian mead halls and Sherman’s yelp of victory on national television. Success in the mead halls might have translated to a dozen new followers in arms, but success in front of the camera meant hundreds of thousands of new followers on Twitter.
Yelping has other effects: inspiring confidence in allies or making one’s name known in a world full of names. It even can serve as a form of intimidation for enemies and detractors (much like the Haka performed by New Zealand’s rugby team).
I’m wouldn’t go so far as to infer that Sherman was solely responsible for Seattle’s win with his boasting, but Denver certainly didn’t emanate their usual cool, collected vibe while the Legion of Boom had a nearly flawless performance.
With the ring now on his finger, I can’t imagine Sherman regrets a single syllable of his yelp.
Photos via: NFL