Trash talk. It’s as much a part of the NFL as the pregame coin flip or the placekick. Every year, we hear players throwing out nonsense that can be used as “bulletin board material.” There’s no doubt that trash talk leading up to a big game adds to the excitement of the event, but does it really impact the on-field performances by the players involved?
In a perfect world, trash talk wouldn’t matter once an actual game starts. In such a place, every player would play to their fullest ability every single game and every single down. Unfortunately, there are players with top-notch work ethics and then there are some that need a kick in the rear to get out of bed in the morning.
Since defeating the 49ers in the NFC championship game, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been at the epicenter of Super Bowl trash talk. Since batting away the 49ers’ game winning attempt on a play that was well-defended but not necessarily extraordinary, Sherman has called Michael Crabtree, the pass’ intended target, a “sorry” and “mediocre” receiver, he’s informed the world that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws ducks and he’s been the target of Colin Kaepernick’s own rant.
The fact that so many star players are currently engaged in such a high level of trash talking doesn’t really change the facts. Despite Kaepernick calling him “ridiculous” and questioning whether he’s the best cornerback in the game, Sherman is undoubtedly one of the best shutdown defenders in the game. Peyton Manning throws an occasional duck, but he completes the pass more times than not, and Crabtree is a solid receiver with exceptional hands.
The media, and as a blogger I’m guilty of this too, tends to overhype postgame exchanges in emotional circumstances. Sherman has apologized for his actions immediately following the biggest play he’s ever made, and we should be taking that at face value.
In regard to the Super Bowl, don’t expect trash talk to have any impact on the NFL’s biggest stage whatsoever. If the players on both sides of the field can’t get ready to pour their soul onto the field for the Super Bowl, then no amount of trash talk or “yo mama” jokes will serve to motivate them any better.
Trash talk is a fundamental part of sports in general. Some opponents may be susceptible to that type of commentary, but most players can easily shrug it off and move on with their days. Sherman knows he’s been at the epicenter of most of the controversy revolving around his own comments, and I’m sure he’s not losing too much sleep over it. Manning knows he throws a bad, weak pass from time to time, but he is also cognizant of the fact that he broke a couple extremely impressive single-season passing records this year.
Although they may be taking pot-shots at each other, the Seahawks and the Broncos aren’t focused on the media or what anyone is saying about their respective teams. They’re focused on doing everything necessary to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Trash talk has its place, but once the ball sails through the air on the game’s opening kickoff, it’ll be the last thing on anyone’s mind.