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NFL

Super talkers are often shut down in big game

| Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, 6:24 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman celebrates after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 23-17 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

NEW YORK — Super Bowl history suggests to the braggadocio-prone Richard Sherman that it's better to speak softly than it is to carry a big schtick.

The second NFC championship game victory in Seattle Seahawks' history was only seconds old when Sherman began stirring up controversy, dismissing the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree as an inferior wide receiver who shouldn't have dared challenge someone as skilled and proficient as him.

Sherman's televised rant immediately went viral and was held up as more evidence many athletes today are more interested in self-promotion and gamesmanship than sportsmanship.

Somewhere, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson probably were wagging a finger and thinking: “Be careful in advance of the Super Bowl where your mouth takes you.”

It's often the biggest talkers, the motormouths, the can't-shut-up-for-their-own good yappers who get most exposed on the biggest day in American pro sports.

Back in the NFL's pre-concussion worry day before the first Super Bowl (though it wasn't called that in 1967), Williamson talked about putting Green Bay receivers Boyd Dowler and Carroll Dale out with a forearm hit to the head he nicknamed the hammer.

“Two hammers to Dowler, one to Dale should be enough,” he said.

Turns out, one hit to Williamson — courtesy of running back Donnie Anderson's knee — knocked him out in the fourth quarter. Before that, Dowler left with a shoulder injury, but slow-as-it-gets replacement Max McGee, age 34, burned Williamson for seven catches, 138 yards and two touchdowns, including the first score in Super Bowl history.

“I don't remember anything,” Williamson said.

It's best he doesn't.

Henderson stirred up the Steelers before the second Dallas-Pittsburgh Super Bowl by predicting a Cowboys shutout. He also ridiculed several Steelers — notably Terry Bradshaw, saying, he “couldn't spell ‘cat' if you spotted him the ‘c' and the ‘a.' ” As it turned out, what Henderson couldn't spell was w-i-n. Bradshaw threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns, including a record 253 yards before halftime, during a 35-31 victory in January 1979. At one point, the Steelers led 35-17.

Henderson himself was shut out, doing almost nothing.

Sherman, for a start, is gearing down his remarks now that the Seahawks are at the Super Bowl site — so much so that some of the dozen TV cameras left his podium before he finished talking Sunday night.

He was praiseworthy of Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas, calling him one of the five best receivers in the game. Sherman also talked more about his teammates than he did himself — the exact opposite of his it's-all-about me tenor from a week before.

Perhaps wisely, too, since the veteran offensive star he'll be opposing — Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw a record 55 touchdown passes this season — isn't at all like the nearly forgotten McGee of 47 years ago.

“I think you're always cognizant of it as a football player, especially in today's world where everybody's looking for a story, everybody's trying to get their name in a paper,” Sherman said of not talking too much. “Everybody's looking to get the quickest headline they can. … I think everyone's cognizant of it, and everyone's aware of what could happen if they gave potential sound bites.”

Sherman's first big test of the week comes Tuesday at Media Day. His teammates probably are hoping he doesn't become the talk of the biggest town of all.

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