By now, we've all seen and voiced an opinion on Seattle CB Richard Sherman's rage-y post-game interview after the Seahawks beat the 49ers on Sunday. Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman decided, after rewatching the interview, that the real problem here lies not with Sherman, but with Erin Andrews. Huh?
Well, let's do this in an old fashioned point/counter point fashion, shall we?
First, Pearlman on Andrews:
So last night, while sitting in bed, I thought more and more about Richard Sherman. I hated how he behaved. Absolutely hated it. But, as I pondered the whole scenario, I kept returning to something else. An entirely separate issue.
Namely, Erin Andrews.
The Fox sideline reporter, who stood there as Sherman blathered away, makes a reported $800,000 annually, and has a net worth—after advertising—of $3 million. In the immediate aftermath of the Sherman outburst, I offered Andrews a slight Twitter compliment, saying she handled things pretty well. Then, I watched again. And again. Um, I was wrong.
Cool, so how would you have handled it? Also, how is Andrews' net worth relevant to any of this?
Erin Andrews was a deer in headlights. She did not know what to do or what to say or how to respond. Someone in the control booth clearly told her to send things away from Sherman—and she did. In short, she wasn’t to be trusted with the situation, and Fox’s heads knew it. As much as America responded negatively to Sherman, he was also—after a must-see game—must-see television. Why was he so angry? How far did this go back? Did it stem from something? Would he confront Crabtree afterward?
This was an unexpected outburst. Instead of the jubilation she was expecting, Andrews got Sherman unloading on Michael Crabtree. She should get points for keeping a straight face and asking a very decent, composed follow-up question. Was Jeff Pearlman in the control booth? Does he know for a fact they sent things away because Erin Andrews couldn't handle Sherman, because she seemed to be doing fine in letting him speak his mind. Andrews sure didn't seem overwhelmed when she spoke to Dan Patrick about the interview yesterday. She called the Sherman interview "awesome."
Good reporters—even good television sideline reporters—are trusted to interview. To probe. To dig. To report. They do so subtly, yes, and in limited doses. But they do, indeed, do so. Think Bonnie Bernstein back in the day. Think Pam Oliver at her best. Think Jim Gray.
Pearlman takes a dig at Erin Andrews and her reporting chops by comparing her negatively to Jim Gray. The same Jim Gray that asked LeBron James "are you still a nail biter" before he got to the point of taking his talents to South Beach.
Andrews, however, was not signed away from ESPN (by Fox) because she’s a high-caliber reporter, or because she possesses a unique view of the game, or incredible knowledge. She was hired away from ESPN (by Fox) because guys think she’s hot.
There is no debating this point.
We all know it to be true. Even (I’m guessing) Erin Andrews.
Really? Really? This is 100% empirical fact that cannot be disputed? Fox hired her away from ESPN for only one reason and is paying her $800,000 per year to look good? I highly doubt Andrews KNOWS that to be true. From her standpoint, she probably feels she worked really hard at ESPN and earned the Fox gig.
The thing is, Erin Andrews has done nothing wrong. She was born pretty, she was a college athlete, she speaks well and she likes sports. If someone wants to pay her huge amounts of money for that, well, so be it. She’s the Kardashian of televised sports—and being a Kardashian has worked out pretty well for the actual Kardashians. The problem comes when something like the Richard Sherman situation arises, and Fox’s sideline star looks overwhelmed and out of her league and lost. Bonnie Bernstein (the gold standard, in my opinion), fires right back—hard. So does Jim Gray—confrontational, edgy, oft-hated—but a guy who doesn’t digest an athlete’s nonsense with an crooked smile and a “Back to you, Troy …”
I agree with the first part – Andrews did nothing wrong. The comparison to the Kardashians though, is out of line, and to me, there is no greater insult. Andrews is famous because she works hard and covers sports for a major network. The Kardashians are famous because Kim let some dude film himself peeing on her. Not the same thing at all. Andrews did look confused at Sherman's outburst, but we don't know if/what she would have done differently. Also, from the video clip, it seems it would have been difficult to get in additional questions because Sherman kind of went off the rails. Maybe it was best for everyone to just call time of death on the interview and move on, regardless of if Andrews could have handled it better or not. Also, Sherman wasn't even LOOKING at her during his rant. A blow up doll could have been interviewing him, and he wouldn't have noticed.
See, surface beauty only travels so far before people demand something more to stay tuned. Sports fans, ultimately, want insight and professionalism and high-caliber questions. They want follow-up reporting.
Or, sadly, they want 28 and wrinkle-free.
The true problem here is that it is impossible to please everyone. So regardless if it's Andrews or Sam Ponder or Pam Oliver, no one is safe. During the game on Sunday when Oliver was talking, a guy sitting next to me said, "Wow, it looks like someone put a mop on her head." Good at her job or not, he went straight to her appearance. Was he even listening to her? I have no idea? Was I? Not really. We were at a loud bar in downtown San Diego and you could only hear so much anyway.
Sports fans do want insight, that's true, and I've heard guys talk about how Andrews has no talent, and I don't necessarily agree, and I sure didn't see that in a 30 second interview clip on Sunday. To think that anyone's mind immediately goes to "Erin Andrews sucks at her job" out of that interview raises a lot of questions about our expectations and predispositions about female sideline reporters. At the end of the day, we're there to watch the athletes, not the reporters. But somehow we always come back to debating whether that unicorn of a woman exists – pretty and knowledgeable about sports and crafted in our perfect image, because according to Pearlman, at least, that's not Erin Andrews.