Sherman, Wilson learn lessons of fame

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
11:00
AM ET
Fame is a double-edged sword.

Seattle Seahawks stars Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson are learning that some of their newfound fame is good and some of it is not so good.

It can surprise you. In this case, the man you might think would become a victim of his fame -- Sherman -- is enjoying enormous popularity and respect.

And the man you would expect to enjoy only the positive of his celebrity status -- Wilson – is seeing some painful aspects of his private life become part of the public spectrum.

Sherman
Wilson
Wilson, the 25-year-old quarterback who led the team to a Super Bowl victory in only his second NFL season, is going through a divorce from his wife, Ashton. They married in January 2012 after a long relationship that began in high school.

Wilson’s marital situation is no one else’s business. But he made a public statement last week, through the Seahawks, that he was divorcing, asking for prayers and saying he would make no further comment about it.

Why would Wilson make a public statement?

As the quarterback of the Super Bowl champions, everything Wilson does is news. He is the most popular person in the Pacific Northwest, and his athletic skills, along with his classy demeanor, have helped make him a national celebrity.

Wilson is everywhere these days, going to spring training with the Texas Rangers, throwing out the first pitch at games for the Rangers and the Mariners, making a cameo appearance in the upcoming movie "Entourage," sitting courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game with Jay Z and Beyonce, etc.

Wilson knew people had started asking questions about why his wife wasn’t with him at any of the events he was attending, so he wisely released a statement to eliminate any questions.

Other players for the Seahawks wouldn’t need to do this, but Wilson has reached the point that his personal life is scrutinized in much the same way a Hollywood star's is. To say nothing only would have increased speculation and led to rumors and inaccurate reports by the media that specialize in private lives of public figures.

I don’t care why Wilson is divorcing. Many people reading this have been through a divorce, as have I. It’s always a painful experience, but I hope he and Ashton get through it as smoothly as possible.

Sadly, his fame won’t allow that to happen without some people trying to guess about the situation and listing unfair and unfounded reasons. I won’t dignify any of them here by mentioning them.

However, a fair question to ask: Will going through a divorce affect Wilson’s play in 2014?

Wilson is as focused and driven an individual as you will find. His teammates love him and will have his back. His strength of character is what got him where he is. He’ll be fine, but he now knows his personal life is under a microscope.

Wilson has experienced the good side of fame since the Super Bowl victory, as well, becoming the No. 1 player in merchandise sales. But no one on the team has benefited more than Sherman.

Who could have imagined Sherman's newfound fame after his postgame rant on national TV moments after a game-saving play against San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game?

In case you’ve forgotten, here it is:

“I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like [Michael] Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me [a message to Crabtree]. Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”

Sherman was vilified by some people after those remarks. Some referred to him as a gangster or a thug. But Sherman got the last word and turned around the rhetoric as an example of racism.

Now he is roundly applauded and seen as the brilliant and informed man he is. Last week, he was named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

He also was asked to speak at Harvard Business School last week, and he addressed his response to the criticism he received.

“I wanted to educate the uneducated,” Sherman said. “I felt the need to turn the discussion on its head. I chose my words very carefully, though I couldn’t control my tone. My delivery left something to be desired. But I knew what I was doing. When they called me a thug, I provoked a discussion.”

Sherman now is the toast of the town, so to speak, as a renaissance man in a football uniform. He remains controversial, but his popularity has soared to unimaginable heights as a result of those few emotional moments on national TV.

Fame giveth, and fame taketh away. That is the lesson to learn for Wilson and Sherman.

And here’s another lesson both men should learn: All fame is fleeting.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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