Seeing Richard Sherman in full

It's difficult not to look at the world through the lens of motherhood.

And that's particularly true when you are the mother of teenagers and you are working hard every day to push across those last few moments of influence and direction before you turn them out into the world as young adults.

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Michelle Smith won't write Richard Sherman off because of his impetuous, emotion-driven side, though she wishes he'd be a lot more careful with his words.

It's why you tell them to "Be careful" every time they walk out your front door.

So when I watched Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the moments immediately following the NFC Championship Game, and saw the reaction his words and actions caused, I ended up with very, very mixed feelings.

It's a gray area that mothers know well: the space in between seeing your child at his best and at his worst, and that dread of knowing that the worst is what other people will see first.

I have the benefit of some personal insight here. I covered Richard Sherman when he was a college athlete at Stanford, though I would not claim to know him well.

But I remember a day at practice when he was a freshman, wearing a bandana under his helmet on which he had written "PHENOM" with a black Sharpie. I rolled my eyes at this brash young wide receiver.

And I also sat as the guest speaker in one of his communications classes at Stanford, and he asked insightful questions and came across as a smart, engaged student who wanted to learn.

His personal story is compelling.

Sherman became the first football player from Dominguez High School in Compton to earn a scholarship at Stanford. He turned down the opportunity to play football at USC to play at Stanford -- understand that Stanford and USC were at opposites ends of the Pac-12 pecking order back then -- because he knew how important it was for a kid from his background to go to a place like Stanford and what it would mean to the other kids who came up behind him.

Sherman's mouth cost him at times while he was in college. He was suspended at one point, effectively benched at another. He announced a season-ending injury on Facebook at a time when then-first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh was stridently opposed to talking to the media about injuries. He persistently asked to be switched to cornerback after he was buried in the depth chart at receiver.

The chip on his shoulder is the product of conflicts both real and self-created, and he can't survive as an athlete without it. He needs it -- and moreover, he seems to need to talk about it -- to thrive. And he has.

He clearly used it as motivation on Sunday night when he made the biggest play of his career to send his team to the Super Bowl.

And then he found a microphone in front of his face.

I want my son to learn the value of humility and graciousness, and Sherman didn't show any of that Sunday night. I can say unequivocally that I never want my son to behave that way.

But I won't write off Sherman because of one side of him -- the impetuous, emotion-driven side that has contributed to who he is and what he has achieved in his life.

I know a lot of other people will, and I get it. That's his price to pay, the consequence of his actions. But to say I feel only one way about Richard Sherman wouldn't be honest. He's not a villain. He's most certainly not an idiot.

And in that moment in front of the camera on Sunday, he was not a hero, no matter how big a play he made.

He turned a team celebration into a moment that was all about him. His grievance against another player, his retribution, his self-congratulation. Him.

As a mom, I can only wish he'd made a different choice. I wish he'd "Be careful."

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