Outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman may not have earned the respect and support of former Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, who on Sunday tweeted Sherman’s postgame comments following Sunday’s NFC championship game would have resulted in a high and tight fastball. But he does have the backing of baseball’s former home run king, “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron, who tweeted his support directly to the Seattle Seahawks star once it became obvious he was being inundated with racist comments via social media.
.@RSherman_25 - hang in there & keep playing as well as you did Sunday. Excellent job - you have my support.
— Hank Aaron (@HenryLouisAaron) January 21, 2014
A very concise show of support, which is basically all Twitter will allow, but very strong all the same.
Sherman was quick to respond to Aaron and thank him for his support.
@HenryLouisAaron Thank you very much for your support it is greatly appreciated and very humbling
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 21, 2014
Of course, there’s quite a difference in perspective in where Verlander was coming from on Sunday and where Aaron is coming from now.
Verlander reacted in the heat of the moment (much like Sherman), feeling Sherman's antics overshadowed his own performance and disrespected the game. Verlander wasn’t alone, of course, and it was difficult to argue against that being true based on what was known at the time. But sometimes we have to step back and look at the bigger issue in play, and there’s no one person who understands the bigger issues and sees the bigger picture brighter than Hank Aaron.
While attempting to break Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record in 1974, Aaron was the one receiving an endless stream of hate mail, racist feedback and even death threats. He’s been in Sherman’s shoes. He experienced the same ugliness at what should have been a peak moment in his professional life, and he handled it with a class and dignity that only elevated his standing in the court of public opinion.
Obviously, Sherman will have a big hill to climb to reach Aaron’s status, but he has chance to emerge from this in good standing if he learns from his actions as much as he learns from the endless hours of film he watches during preparation. Having Aaron in his corner doesn't hurt either. That's one relationship Sherman would be wise to pursue as he moves forward in his playing career.
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