Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Richard Sherman & Talking Trash (Talking Smack) , Part I

Edited by Azizi Powell

The terms "talking trash" and "talking smack" appear in a number of articles about Seattle Seahawks [American] football player Richard Sherman's January 19, 2014 post game televised interview.

Part I of this post provides definitions of "talking trash" and "talking smack". Because it is mentioned in the summary statement for the embedded video of that interview, I also included a definition of the vernacular term "going off on [someone]" along with my comments differentiating that African American Vernacular English (AAVE) phrase from the other two AAVE terms.
That video is included below as well as in Part II of this post. Part I also provides an excerpts from an online article about Richard Sherman's January 19, 2014 post game interview.

Click for Part II of this post.

Part II of this post presents additional excerpts from selected articles & blog comments about Richard Sherman and his post game interview.

Editorial Comment:
It's my position that Richard Sherman's self-boasting and opponent insulting (put down, dissing) comments during his January 19, 2014 post game interview are reflective of the African American tradition of talking trash (talking smack). As the article found below and other articles in Part II suggests, Sherman is known for his trash talking. Boxer Muhammad Ali is another African American professional athlete who was known for his self-boasting and opponent insulting talk. And some non-African American athletes are also known for trash talking.

This doesn't negate the fact that during that televised interview Sherman's tone of voice was probably louder than it usually is when he talks smack. Actually, I think that it would be more accurate to say that Richard Sherman "went off on" Michael Crabtree, the African American wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers instead of saying that Michael Sherman "talked trash" or "talked smack". (The definitions of those terms are found below.) Sherman and Crabtree really don't like each other. However, it seems to me that the cultural tradition of talking smack particularly as it relates to the self-boasting and insult exchange traditions which have their source in African American culture should be factored into any analysis of that now famous (or infamous) Richard Sherman's post game interview.

UPDATE: January 23, 2014
"The audio and video released by the NFL on Wednesday fits with Sherman's account of events from his column about the incident and ensuing criticism for "The Monday Morning Quarterback."

"I ran over to Crabtree to shake his hand but he ignored me," wrote Sherman in a piece published on Monday. "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."

Moments after being shoved in the face by Crabtree, Sherman had a microphone put in his face by Erin Andrews of FOX Sports. At that point, he excoriated Crabtree and loudly proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL."
Notice Richard Sherman's use of the phrase "went off", which is a form of the phrase "going off on [someone]".

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for winning Super Bowl XLVIII
(Score: Seattle: 43 Denver Broncos 8).

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mrhoopstafilms, Published on Jan 19, 2014

Richard Sherman Goes Off in Post Game Interview!!!! (2014 NFC Championship)

Richard Sherman Going Off on Michael Crabtree w/ Erin Andrews! richard sherman trash talk crabtree (2014 NFC Championship)
WARNING: Some comments on this video's viewer comment thread include profanity and racist language.

Here's a definition for "going off on [someone"] from
"'To go off on someone' means to tell someone how angry you are about something they did."
In my opinion, Richard Sherman did indeed "go off on Michael Crabtree while he was talking trash. But I think that because "talking trash" ("talking smack") isn't necessarily done in anger, "going off on someone" isn't the same thing as "talking trash" ("talking smack").

"trash talk
noun: trash talk; noun: trash talking; plural noun: trash talkings
1. insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone, esp. an opponent in an athletic contest.
"He heard more trash talk from the Giants before the game than during the game."

verb: trash-talk;
I don't think that African Americans use the plural form "trash talkings". Also, I believe that African Americans say that a person “talks trash” or "is taking trash" and not “trash talk” or "trash talking". My statement about the plural form & what I think is the usual way African Americans say that term also applies to the synonymous African American derived vernacular term "talking smack".

[The first definition given refers to cyber bullying which doesn't apply to that term's use in the articles about Richard Sherman.]

".... Smack talk is also a slang term used in sports. It refers to inflammatory comments made by a person or team in order to insult, anger, or annoy opponents. Although it began as a term used by sports fans and athletes, it has spread to all areas of culture where competition takes place. In the United States, it is synonymous with "trash talk"".
I disagree that “talking smack” began among sports fans. Instead, it began in self-boasting and put down exchanges among African Americans, probably as a prelude to or as part of the verbal insult exchanges known as “the dozens”.

"The Dozens is a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in African-American communities, where participants insult each other until one gives up. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an audience of bystanders, who encourage the participants to reply with more egregious insults to heighten the tension and consequently, to be more interesting to watch. Among African-Americans it is also known "sounding", "joning", "woofing", "wolfing", "sigging", or "signifying",[1][2] while the insults themselves are known as "snaps".[3][4]"

Also, click for more information about the dozens from a book by Elijah Wald about that tradition.

From "Richard Sherman slams 49ers’ Michael Crabtree, talks smack after Seahawks win NFC title" Posted on January 19, 2014 | By Nick Eaton
"Richard Sherman loves being in the spotlight. And as the stage gets bigger and bigger and bigger, he’s taking his trash-talking further and further and further.

On Sunday, after the Seahawks beat the rival 49ers to win the NFC championship and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle’s star cornerback took the opportunity in his postgame interviews to talk smack about San Francisco — namely Niners receiver Michael Crabtree.

“Michael Crabtree is a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “Mediocre. And when you try to beat the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that’s what happens. Game.”…
[Sherman] didn’t waste much time to make his feelings known, starting the smack-talk from the field as he was interviewed by Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews.

“I’m the best corner in the game,” Sherman yelled into the mic. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”

“Who was talking about you?” a surprised Andrews asked.

“Crabtree,” Sherman said. “Don’t you ever open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick. LOB!”

(LOB stands for Legion of Boom.)*

In his later postgame comments — once he had calmed down, taken a shower, and donned a suit and bowtie — Sherman explained that Crabtree had been talking trash about Sherman all year, starting in the offseason and continuing through the end of Sunday’s NFC title game.”
*By ending his comments with the exclamation "LOB" (Legion of Boom) Richard Sherman was giving a "shout out" (kudos) to the section of the Sea Hawks team that he belongs to. Here's information about the referent "Legend Of Boom" from “In Seattle, the secondary comes first”

"With its swagger, the "Legion of Boom" has captured the hearts of Seahawks fans
Updated: January 10, 2014, 1:54 PM ET By Elizabeth Merrill |
"SEATTLE -- There was always a plan. To the rest of the league, it was obnoxious: four defensive backs strutting, dancing and flapping their gums in a faraway corner forgotten by football. "I love you, Bro," they'd say to each other during warm-ups. And opponents hated playing them.
But this is just the way Richard Sherman choreographed it. He'd sit up at night, going over his material like a comedian about to take the stage. I've seen better hands on a snake. You're a bunch of bad routes and talk.

Sherman, a fifth-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, was doing this before he had any clout in the NFL. Now in most NFL cities, this wouldn't fly. But Sherman's coach is Pete Carroll, a free thinker who allows his men to be who they want to be, just as long as their creativity doesn't hurt the team. But by the midway point of the 2012 season, after Sherman taunted New England quarterback Tom Brady and started calling himself Optimus Prime, even Carroll was wondering what was up.

So Carroll summoned Sherman to his office. Carroll didn't yell; he just wanted to know where Sherman was going with all of this.

Sherman turned serious. He told Carroll that he wanted to be a Hall of Famer, wanted people to call the Seahawks' defensive backs the best in the league. Sherman said he knew they were the best, but they had to get noticed, and he didn't want to wait.

"Cool," Carroll said. "Go for it."...

Every great defense has a nickname, right? The Steel Curtain, the Monsters of the Midway … Only the Seahawks, never short on words, couldn't quite come up with anything on this rare occasion. "The Four Horsemen" was suggested, but no, that had been done and was sort of exclusionary. "There's more than four of us," Sherman said.

[Seattle SeaHawks football player Kam] Chancellor was on a radio show when he was asked about what type of player he was, and the walloping 6-foot-3, 232-pound safety said he liked to bring the boom.* Shortly after that, a fan offered up the "Legion of Boom" nickname via Twitter. T-shirts were printed. Floormats, bumper stickers and legends were made...

The day before the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams last month -- a game that would clinch the Seahawks' NFC West title -- Carroll brought in Bill Russell to speak to the team.
"He was like, the night before the playoffs, everyone would ask him, 'Are you nervous?'" cornerback Byron Maxwell said, recalling the speech from Russell. "And he's like, 'No. I'm not playing Bill Russell and the Celtics.' So it's kind of like that mindset. They've got to deal with us.

"It's not cocky. It's confidence."...
It seems to me that "bringing the boom" means "bringing the power, energy, and excitement" ["boom" being the sound that dynamite makes when it explodes.

"Two Muhammad Ali Raps (This Is The Legend Of Cassius Clay & Float Like A Butterfly) Two Muhammad Ali Raps (This Is The Legend Of Cassius Clay & Float Like A Butterfly)"

Here's an excerpt from that post:
"Muhammad Ali's raps are stellar examples of this tradition of telling "big ole lies", combined with the African American tradition of self-boasting. Examples of the tradition of self-boasting (which is known nowadays as "biggin up oneself") and insulting ("dissin") another person or persons can be found in Blues music, Hip-Hop, and other Black oral and written compositions. One African American self-boasting tradition which is relatively unknown in mainstream America is "Toasting" (telling usually explicit oral narratives about bad Black men)."

This is the end of Part I of this post.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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1 comment:

  1. I corrected an earlier version of this post in which I wrote that Michael Crabtree was White. That shows you how much I know about football.

    I'm sorry for my mistake.