Beyond Golf — 29 January 2014 by Bob Sherwin
12th Man Fan: Bigger crowd for Hawks?

(Super Bowl XLVIII is Sunday in New Jersey with two Western teams involved, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Golferswest.com’s Bob Sherwin is in New York City all week, with his NYC-based daughter Mary, to represent and provide insight as to what the fans are experiencing in this cold and captivating capital of the world).

NEW YORK – Chances are good that the Seahawks are going to have plenty more than 12 men in the stands Sunday. They likely will out-populate Broncos fans at MetLife Stadium.

Each team receives an allotment of 17.5 percent of the available 82,566 tickets. The Seahawks, who used a lottery for distribution amid the demand of season-ticket-holders, are said to have used up their entire supply. With many more unfilled requests.

Denver, which has been to six Super Bowls, are believed to have distributed less than than amount, although the team and the NFL have not been forthcoming with details.

The bulk of the tickets are available for fans in the New York/New Jersey region. So who they will cheer for is uncertain but it appears Seahawk fans have a wider base of hometown support.

You could can see that support in Sea-Tac Tuesday, in all the blue-and-green jerseys and virtually all the animated conversations. It’s a Sherman-hyped-up crowd – loud and proud – and it will be hard to imagine that they would be content to sitting down and be out-yelled by a bunch of Broncos.

Tickets prices backing off 

Secondary market tickets for the game, by the way, peaked around $4,500 last week but now are on a steep decline. You hate to be the guy who spent more than $4,000 for a ticket because they are going for around $2,500 – and falling. The face value for most of the tickets are between $800 and $1,500.

Because there are two Western teams involved and because it’s the first time that the NFL’s biggest game is played in an open-air cold-weather city, it seems fans in the Tri-State area would rather not tempt the cold. They’d rather watch being warm and comfortable at home. These people deal with cold temperatures all the time. They don’t need to fight the crowds and the weather just to see a game in which they have no rooting interest. You can’t blame them, although there are about 15 million people within a reasonable drive of the stadium. You would think that demand would still out-strip supply.

Unpleasant residue of Sherman’s rage

Speaking of Richard Sherman, the Seahawks trash-talking cornerback who had hatched a cottage industry of fascination after his 20-second post-NFC Championship game outburst, he remains topic one throughout this two-week-long media hype.

Everyone wants a piece of him. Everyone wants find out what makes his tick and what ticks him off. He’s being tested. He has an abundance of critics as well as apologists.

Allow one more – probably not final – perspective on this, one in which so many have talked around but few have not gotten the core of why it resonates.

For me, what he said was irritating. I’m never enamored with someone saying “I’m the best…” because it’s a TEAM game, not an individual pursuit. For those to compare him to the great  Muhammad Ali’s tirades, that’s off the mark. Boxing is an individual sport. He had his own stage. Also, Ali’s trash talk always seemed to be endearing.

I also didn’t like his jumping choke sign – a well-deserved fine – and his crazy antics that took away the focus on the team and the magnificent last-minute victory. What we remember is not his play but his mouth. But all that washes away for me in the long run. But for many.

You will notice that there has been very little of his criticism over what he said. Hardly anyone brings that up. What bothered people the most was Sherman’s tone. As soon as he started up, my immediate thought was, oh, no, don’t go there. In this popularized country, I am acutely aware of race, racism and those who see it and exploit it in everything facet of society. Sherman inadvertently had entered the Angry Black Man zone with that spontaneous blast of noise.

What did that do? It brought out a massive racial counter-assault. You it saw instantly on the social networks, vile comments mostly in code (read: thug) and plenty of N-words. Even African-American NBA star Andre Iguodala tweeted afterward, “he just set us back 500 years.”

That was the unfortunate and unintended result. All the stories about Sherman’s Stanford education, his charity work, his thoughtful interviews and his wonderful family don’t do much to dent those deeply entrenched in hate and bitterness. He’s a target now, for the wrong reason.

The Angry Black Man factor is something the black community is aware of, fairly of unfairly. Even President Obama, who doesn’t seem to have an affinity for rage, has had to be particularly careful to keep his cool, otherwise he knows there are many ready to pounce on any perceived perturbation.

You would think a football field would be an more natural venue for such a outburst, especially mere seconds after a highly emotional finish. But Sherman got no pass. He is perceived as an angry man. It doesn’t matter that he apologized, that he has nothing to be ashamed of, that he even has since enhanced his image.

Sherman is wired differently and, counter-intuitively, his popularity and even his commercial potential has improved. But for many, nothing matters. He’s type set.

As a result, as the game approaches there are a few things that are certain. Sherman will continue to get a lion’s share of pre-game TV attention Sunday, that video clip will be shown more than once and the FOX cameras will repeatedly focus of him for his reaction to any significant pass play, especially ones he’s involved in. There may even be a isolation camera on No. 25 for the full 60.

Sherman now understands what his deed has done. He also seems to be able to handle the attention as well as the abuse.

Quirky Super Bowl bets

Quirky bets on the Super Bowl always interest me, such as betting on the coin toss, the length of the national anthem, the color of the anthem singer’s dress, over-under on certain penalties, turnovers or sideline TV shots of the coach.

A story in Tuesday’s Seattle Times had a few more exotic ones than I’ve ever seen. According to an off-shore on-line betting site, you can bet whether Sherman will again have a post-game interview with Erin Andrews. I’ll take that one.

You can bet on whether the announcers will mention the word marijuana, since both teams play in states that passed legal weed laws last year.

You can bet on how many times Broncos QB Peyton Manning to bark out ‘Omaha’ before the snap. But what if he yells it at times when the field mike doesn’t pick it up? Do those count? Who keeps track?

You can bet on what color the Gatorade will be that’s poured on the winning coach’s head.

You also can bet on whether 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, the object of Sherman TV tirade, will tweet something about Sherman during the game. This one seems like a lead pipe cinch to collect. If you were Crabtree, or one of his family or friends, wouldn’t you get to him and tell him to tweet the number of times that will allow you to win the bet? I’d take that one. It would pay for my entire week in NYC.

 

 

 

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 46th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men’s basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the ‘Super Senior” (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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