We don't like people who run up the score.
Well, we don't. And we shouldn't. There's something to be said for winning with grace and class, or at least with feigned humility. Fake it for us, and we'll be OK. Trying to be humble is humble enough.
Gloating, as Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman continues to do toward 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree? Pouring it on, hitting the guy when he's down and hitting him again and again and again until people like me -- and, I hope, lots of you -- are starting to think maybe Michael Crabtree isn't the bad guy in this situation?
It's a bad look for Richard Sherman.
Not that he seems to care. That's a smart dude, though his impulse control needs some work. Hey, look who's talking right? The next time I control my impulses will be the first time I've ever controlled my impulses. Let me tell you a story I get reminded of all the time, just to demonstrate how weak I can be when it comes to impulse control.
It's a softball game, an adult rec league. Nothing much. Certainly nothing much for a (former) athlete like myself. Played high school baseball, don't you know. Even had some colleges, small ones you've never heard of, offering me what at the time they called "a scholarship," though what I now figure was probably going to be a $250 discount on fall tuition. Whatever. I was the athlete, and this was softball, and I'm in center field and there's a runner on second base and here comes a base hit into left center. The left fielder is charging it, and I yell at him -- swear to God, this is what I yelled as I charged that damn ball -- "My arm is stronger than yours!"
People who were on the field that day still remind me of that. They're sports writers, and I'll see them at a game here or there, and they don't say hi. They say, "My arm's stronger than yours."
And that was 1993.
So anyway, impulse control is something I'm familiar with -- if only because I've got none of it. And here is where, maybe the only point where, I have something in common with Richard Sherman. I know a smart dummy when I see one, and man do I see one in Richard Sherman. Whatever happened between him and Crabtree last offseason at that charity event hosted by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald -- Crabtree reportedly tried to start a fight with Sherman -- is murky and unknown. Sherman's side, as told by his brother to the Seattle Times, is that Sherman tried to shake Crabtree's hand, and Crabtree responded by trying to fight him.
Take that with a grain of salt, because we all saw what happened after the 2014 NFC championship game, when Sherman broke up the game-clinching play on a pass intended for Crabtree and then described what happened next as Richard Sherman being an utterly blameless victim:
"I ran over to Crabtree to shake his hand but he ignored me," Sherman wrote for the MMQB.com. "I patted him, stuck out my hand and said, 'Good game, good game.' That's when he shoved my face, and that's when I went off."
Oh, he went off. He gave Erin Andrews the sound bite heard 'round the world, relishing in Crabtree's defeat and heartbreak by screaming: "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get!"
It was mercilessness bordering on malevolence, and it was repulsive. It was Richard Sherman ceding in one sound bite his place of victory. Before opening his mouth, Sherman was the winner of a one-on-one contest with Crabtree, his victory giving his team the victory. And in 25 seconds, Sherman went from game winner to life loser.
You'd think that after time to reflect, a smart guy like Sherman would like to have that back. And maybe he would. But someone asked him about Crabtree for a show called American Muscle -- it aired Wednesday night on the Discovery Channel -- and Sherman blurted out some more mercilessness.
"It's much more of just I don't like the dude," Sherman says. "You know what I'm saying. And I think he's sorry. So it's really what it comes down to …
"It's not going to be something that goes away. I hope to play him every year for the rest of my career and choke him out. There's not much else I can say about the subject. Nobody will understand it but him and me. That's all that needs to understand."
Nobody will understand it but him and me.
Then why keep dredging it up? Why give us the exclamation point without sharing the sentence, the whole story, that led there?
In the big picture, this isn't part of the big picture. A cornerback for one of the NFC's best teams doesn't like a receiver on its arch rival? No big deal, no surprise, no story. Except for when that dislike spills over into the public domain and becomes something for the rest of us to consider -- something Richard Sherman insists the rest of us consider.
So after considering all that was said in January, and after considering what was aired this week, I've come to the following conclusion:
Richard Sherman isn't nearly as smart he thinks he is. Because smart people, after turning victory into defeat as stunningly as Sherman did in January, don't keep running up the score. And he has. On himself.
His defeat is now a landslide. In the contest between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree, Sherman is down six touchdowns, maybe seven. Until the next time he opens his mouth, when that smart dummy goes for the two-point conversion.