The Difference Between Richard Sherman and Downton Abbey

Pastor Bob O'Bannon

There has been lots of talk this week about Richard Sherman’s wild rant on national television Sunday night. Sherman, a defensive player for the Seattle Seahawks, had just caused a game-saving interception in the NFC championship game with San Francisco when a Fox Sports reporter put a microphone in his face. Sherman proceeded to call 49ers player Michael Crabtree a “sorry receiver.” He boasted that he (Sherman) was the “best corner in the game.” He yelled to the camera that no one should ever talk about him. He was defiant. He glared. And then he stormed off.

Afterward, I was surprised at the number of people who rushed to Sherman’s defense. We shouldn’t be critical of his behavior, people said, because none of us knows what it’s like to play in such a highly charged, competitive situation. Sherman was “amped up” and full of adrenalin. He was just being “real.” He went to Stanford and is apparently really smart. Apparently Sherman and Crabtree have a history of sparring with one another.

These disclaimers all have merit. Sherman did offer a half-apology recently, and he should get credit for at least restraining himself from using profanity. I guess it could have been worse.

My guess is that Richard Sherman will not be asked any time soon to guest star on “Downton Abbey.” It’s the popular British “Masterpiece Theater” drama that is now in its fourth season on PBS. Interestingly, “Downton Abbey” was broadcast while the football game was concluding. Some people probably had to think hard about which one to watch. What a clash of cultures these two programs represent.

“Downton Abbey” explores the relationships between some aristocrats and their servants in the early 20th century England. Each episode, for the most part, is a model of civility and decorum, where characters show respect to one another and emphasize the importance of etiquette, good manners and the pursuit of virtue. It is my theory that one reason the show is so popular is because it offers such a refreshing contrast to the coarseness of our culture. The dialogue seems to capture what Paul possibly had in mind in Col. 4:6 when he wrote,

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt . . .”

I realize there is a big difference between the NFL and PBS, and yes, I enjoy watching professional football, but the sport seems to increasingly be a place where boasting and bravado are excused and even celebrated. Ps. 12:3-4 says,

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, ‘With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?’”

Of course we all say things in the heat of the moment that we wish we could take back. But I would suggest that our society could use a few more doses of Downton Abbey rather than Richard Sherman. And the Scriptures are clear: God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the humble.