PHOENIX, Ariz. – Richard Sherman does not like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Underscoring that point seems to be one of his missions here in his meetings with the press this week at Super Bowl XLIX.
And you’d better be prepared for a war of words if you dare challenge him on it.
On Tuesday at Media Day, a sports radio reporter from Palm Desert, Calif., did exactly that — and held her own admirably.
Julie Buehler of KXPS (my photo, above) challenged Sherman on his statement Sunday that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is so buddy-buddy with Goodell that it amounts to “a conflict of interest,” and is the reason the NFL’s deflation-scandal investigation likely will not result in any punishment for the Patriots, in Sherman’s view.
The all-pro cornerback on Sunday referred to a photograph that made the rounds on the web last week, showing Goodell at Kraft’s house just before the Patriots defeated the Colts in the AFC championship game.
Kraft is known to be a close confidante’s of the commissioner’s, whom some even believe to be the league’s second most powerful man.
On Tuesday, a few minutes into Sherman’s one-hour news conference, Buehler challenged Sherman’s Sunday statements.
Sherman not only didn’t back down, he gave it right back to Buehler. She didn’t back down either, and it was quite the exchange.
Here it is, as best as I could make it out amid the din:
BUEHLER: Kraft said that you didn’t know enough about that situation, so how much care do you put into your own research for you to state publicly that the commissioner of the NFL has a conflict of interest?
SHERMAN: Um, it’s not difficult for me to research.
BUEHLER: Did you do any research?
SHERMAN: I obviously did.
BUEHLER: But you were incorrect about that.
SHERMAN: In which way was I incorrect?
BUEHLER: You saying Goodell and Kraft have a conflict of interest is like you and (current New England Patriots cornerback and former Seattle Seahawk) Brandon Bowner not being able to talk as former teammates.
SHERMAN: That’s a little different.
BUEHLER: How so?
SHERMAN: I don’t work for Brandon Browner.
BUEHLER: (brief pause)
SHERMAN: You don’t have anything else?
BUEHLER: Oh no, I do. I wonder how much research you do –
SHERMAN: But you never answered my — you never (continued) our discussion, you never concluded that, so I don’t work for Brandon Browner, so the point is invalid.
BUEHLER: Well it’s not invalid … There are only 32 owners, and hanging out with an owner doesn’t mean there’s impropriety, just like you hanging out with a competitor at the Super Bowl doesn’t mean there’s impropriety.
SHERMAN: I don’t work for my — I don’t work for the competitor. I don’t get to impose discipline on the competitor.
BUEHLER: But you stated that there is a level of impropriety in hanging out. It isn’t accurate.
SHERMAN: How many other owners has he hung out with, has he had dinner at his house and took pictures with?
BUEHLER: Goodell … (inaudible, sounds like: “has a lot of friends.”)
SHERMAN: Have you done your research?
SHERMAN: No you haven’t. You just came up knee-jerk and said that. Come off it.
Seahawks fans in attendance then drowned out the continuing exchange for a few moments on my audio digital recorder. As the exchange became clear again, Sherman contended Kraft was the “first person” to call Roger Goodell to offer support when the Ray Rice scandal blew up all to hell in September.
SHERMAN: C’mawn, c’mawn, who was the first person to call Roger Goodell? C’mawn, give it to me. Give it to me. You’re not doing your research … (I can’t) have a discussion with someone who has no information. You don’t have any information. I have all the research. I’m doing your job for you. You’re making it difficult to have a discussion … Was (Kraft) the first person to call Roger Goodell to talk about the Ray Rice situation, or wasn’t he?
BUEHLER: No, he wasn’t.
SHERMAN: He wasn’t? You know that? Did you do your research? C’mawn … Did you do your research? I wish this could be a better debate, but the levels aren’t there for you.
With that, Sherman took another question.
The seven words you can say on TV
… if you’re Marshawn Lynch
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Remember George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on TV?” Best we not go there.
But here are the only seven words Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was willing to say, time and again, on Tuesday at his own podium at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day:
“I’m here so I won’t get fined.”
Lynch answered every question with those seven words during his five-minute news conference, which he cut off about 55 minutes early during the ostensible hour-long session for the Seahawks team with thousands of reporters and cameramen at over-stuffed US Airways Center.
Lynch’s notorious dislike of talking to the press seems to become more intense, and more passive-aggressively unhelpful, with every mandated session.
Hundreds of reporters and cameramen swamped his stage (see my photo, below). Lynch wore a ball cap and dark sunglasses for his brief stint.
Outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman supports Lynch’s stance.
“I don’t think (players) should be obligated any more than the commissioner is obligated to speak to the media,” Sherman said at his podium.
“I think that if players are going to be obligated to speak to the media, then every one of the NFL personnel should be obligated to speak to the media weekly, and that’s not the case.”
That’s correct. An NFL head coach must be available to talk to reporters at least four days per week during the season. But not every team holds a weekly news conference with even the offensive and defensive coordinators, let alone with seldom-available position coaches.
General managers are available even less often in some cities, and player personnel directors rarer still.
“It’s unfortunate,” Sherman said.
At that, we went over to see Seahawks GM John Schneider — who seldom makes himself available to talk to the press. We asked him what he thinks of Sherman’s suggestion that all NFL personnel should be made to talk to the press as often as players.
“I’m totally against that,” Schneider said, chuckling. “No, I understand where he’s coming from. He has his opinion, so that’s fine.”
Sherman said the league should be more flexible to appease players such as Lynch who are chronically uncomfortable talking to the press.
“Every team should be forced to present certain players (to the press) — obviously a few of them,” Sherman said.
“If someone is uncomfortable in front of the media and uncomfortable answering questions and things like that, then you have to find a way to accommodate (them).”