Is Richard Sherman a Communications/Personal Branding Genius?

Joe Goldman |

The NFL’s biggest trash talker is certainly controversial, but he's by no means dumb.

Richard Sherman has been labeled many things during his three-year career. He’s been called a "thug," "classless," "arrogant," and "a trash-talking hot head." He has also been called the best cornerback in the league by some and unfathomably overrated by others.

However, the one thing nobody can call Richard Sherman is dumb. Sherman was Salutatorian in high school, meaning he had the highest second GPA in his entire class. He also graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA in communications and obtained a masters degree during his forth year.

On Sunday, Sherman made the biggest play of his career and gave one of the most memorable postgame interviews in history. He used his on-field interview to trash talk opposing wide receiver Michael Crabtree and talk up his own abilities in a short, adrenaline-filled speech. This came immediately after he taunted Crabtree during the game’s final seconds.

Many lost respect for Sherman after the game, but could Sherman’s over the top trash talking nature be part of a grand marketing scheme? His academic history says yes, as Sherman is well versed and immensely educated in the field of communications. As a communications scholar from one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, Sherman knows a thing or two about marketing and he’s certainly smart enough to market himself.

Sherman may be trying to brand himself as a modern-day Muhammad Ali. Ali is a legendary trash talker and arrogant speaker while remaining one of the most beloved sports figures in history. As long as Sherman can continue to back up his talk on the field, he may be destined to a similar legacy. As statistically the best cornerback and de facto biggest playmaker at the position, Sherman is well on his way.

Ali’s trash talk was given a pass because he was a champion. Sherman will need to win a Super Bowl to cement his legacy and create a whole new image – the best in the game who unequivocally knows he is the best.

Sponsors will surely be watching on Super Bowl Sunday, when Sherman can prove his worth and back up his talk. If Sherman makes big plays and the Seahawks win the game, Sherman will have successfully branded himself as an alpha male, a world class athlete, a feared player, and a genius – on the field, off the field, and in the art of trash talk.

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