If you had to name as many cornerbacks in the NFL as you could (other than ones on your favorite team), how many could you name without the help of Google? Now we’re pretty sure you can name at least one more: Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. In just two short years, Sherman has quickly built a name that is recognizable all across the nation, despite being a 5th round draft pick with almost no hype when entering the league, and recently added to the growing legend.
After his team defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game on January 19th, Sherman, 25, took the social media world by storm with a post-game interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews that was reminiscent of pro wrestler and was widely perceived as an immature, arrogant rant.
Like typical online comments, the feedback wasn’t pretty. The majority of people quickly condemned his actions, calling him “uneducated,” “arrogant,” a “thug,” or a “sore winner,” among others. People ripped his brashness, wanting him to express a good old fashioned, vanilla sound byte along the lines of “We played hard… hats off to the 49ers… excited to go to the Super Bowl.”
Regardless of public opinion, the Stanford educated, communications graduate knows what he is doing. Like many start-up and underdog businesses, he had a chip on his shoulder and is looking to continually prove himself to everyone. According to an article on New York Daily News, Seahawks teammate and wide receiver Doug Baldwin said, “He told me his plan was to be a household name by his second year.” Sound like your business?
Depending upon the position played, an NFL study found the average length of an NFL player’s career is 6.86-years (it’s even shorter for cornerbacks). If Sherman follows that average, he only has just over 4 years left and he wants to make the most of it. (Check out this unofficial NFL Census for more cool info).
While what Sherman said may not have been the best choice of words, it did get people talking. Sherman, like one time king of NFL antics Chad Ochocinco, wants to make an impact on the league, the fans and history, and going the vanilla route is no way to do that. “A lot of people take it as I want to be controversial or something like that,” he says of his antics. “Nah. It (football) is just a game. It should be fun,” said Sherman.
In the days following Sherman’s interview his name was trending on Twitter and Facebook, memes had been created, TV shows focused on him and countless articles were written. Despite the perception he may have given after the game, Sherman is great in his community and is a well-spoken, smart individual who plays the game, both in football and life. So don’t let his game face fool you. Like one familiar superhero, he can be a mild-mannered “Clark Kent” aka the intelligent Stanford grad who loves to read or “Superman” aka the brash, trash-talker who considers himself the best cornerback in the NFL and plays like it. Regardless, people will always have opinions and you can’t please everyone.
So, what can your business take away from this? While we don’t recommend you outright blasting your competitors, this does provide a great lesson on various forms of outreach. If you’re afraid to rock the boat from time to time with marketing that gets people talking you’re going to get exactly what a generic interview would have gotten Sherman: uninterested eyeballs briefly glimpsing at what you’re doing but not really paying attention and ultimately forgotten. If your marketing doesn’t make you feel slightly uncomfortable or nervous at times, then it’s probably not going to be effective and may be worth rethinking.
Hundreds of athletes pass through the NFL every year and thousands more in professional sports altogether, with many of them barely making a blip on the public’s radar… if at all. Sherman knows how good he is and about how long his career will be, so he is making sure he takes advantage of every day. Is your company doing all it can to create business and make a greater name for itself? Many business know how good they are too but rarely say it. If you aren’t tooting your own horn, who will?
While Sherman’s overall approach may not be completely inline with your business’ brand, it is a reminder that how successful you are is a direct result of how much risk you are willing to take. So, are you making your own waves or are you just bobbing in the vast ocean of other businesses?
Here’s your assignment: When was the last time your business shook things up? If you can’t remember or never have, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do. Write down at least 5 outrageous marketing ideas, no matter how ridiculous, that you wish your business could do.
The key is to come up with ideas without regard to how much it costs, what resources are needed or if it’s even possible to do. You can always scale back. But if you start out vanilla and then begin picking away you’ll get the same old stuff that rarely gets noticed or positive results.
More about Richard Sherman…
• If You Are a Richard Sherman Hater, This Video Will Change Your Mind
• Richard Sherman: Rant was ‘immature,’ reaction ‘mind-boggling’
• 22 Brief Thoughts About That Richard Sherman Interview
• Beats by Dre Drops New Ad and the Timing Could Not Be Better
• Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman talks big game and backs it up
• 5 Reasons We Can’t Blame Richard Sherman for ‘Talkin a Little Trash’
• Richard Sherman lives ‘on the edge,’ says Stanford’s David Shaw
• Unparalleled Fascination With Richard Sherman
• Erin Andrews is happy that Richard Sherman lost his mind in postgame interview
• CB Richard Sherman apologizes