What NFL trash talkers can teach us about protecting your brand.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson 

His athletic prowess is undeniable.  His mouth, however, needs some work. In Sunday’s playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers Richard Sherman pulled off an amazing play with 1 minute left on the clock, to secure the Seahawk’s win.  Fans flipped out, the playback reel was in over drive. Would he just leave it at that?  Oh hell no.   If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the clip to the post-game interview where he screamed his way through the following:

Sherman:  “I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the result you are going to get! Don’t you even talk about me!”

Erin Andrews (Fox Sports sideline reporter):  “Who was talking about you?”

Sherman:  “Crabtree!  Don’t open your mouth about the best or I’m going to shut it for you real quick!”

Alright, alright.  We get trash talking is part of the game.  With people like Terrell Owens and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson there’s never been a shortage of belligerent language on and off the field. But we think it’s going too far.  Where are the funny, entertaining yet classy players?  Thing is, if you look around you just see the other end of the spectrum.  People like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are god-like in their abilities, but coma-inducing in their words:  “one game at a time”, “we play non-situational football”, “it’s an honour to be here”, “leave it on the field”, “give it 110 percent”, “this game is won in the trenches”…you get it the idea.  Yawn.

So is there no one in between?  We came up with Bill Parcells.  He’s won 2 Super Bowls, is in the Hall of Fame, and comes up with these gems:

“If I’m going to be asked to cook the meal, I’d like to be able to pick the groceries.”

“I’m not a bus-station kind of person, but there are a few players here I’m not sure want to be here. They’ve got a brook-trout kind of look.” 

I don’t even know what he’s talking about!  But it’s interesting and it makes you think.  So the lesson is you can be provocative, but be smart and be classy.  Otherwise it’s painfully brand-diminishing.