In 1889 when first lady Frances Cleveland left the White House after President Grover Cleveland had been defeated for re–election, she famously told the staff not to change the curtains and furniture because she would be back in four years.
As Muhammad Ali, one of the best (or worst) trash talkers and braggarts in history once said, among many other bombasts, “It ain’t braggin if you can back it up.”
Ali was not the first to say that. He was likely quoting famous Cardinal pitcher Dizzy Dean who said the same thing a generation earlier. The famous author Walt Whitman, of all people, also said essentially the same thing before that. Perhaps it’s in the Bible somewhere, I’m not sure.
In Super Bowl III, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. He said this at a pre-game press luncheon in Miami. He played great and won. The Jets were 19 point underdogs and won by nine. He backed it up.
On the other hand, baseball player Sammy Sosa, after drug use possibly helped his career, said he was retiring and going home to the Dominican Republic and wait for his election to the Hall of Fame. How’s that working out?
Just a few weeks ago, Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn told a TV audience numbering in the tens of millions during halftime of the national championship game that his Tigers would wear down Florida State in the second half. Oops!
This brings us to Seattle’s Richard Sherman and his post San Francisco game TV rant about his considerable talents as a defensive back for the Super Bowl bound Seahawks.
He was, he said, “the best defensive back in the league.” He may be right, but the NFL is a big league and there are at least three other defensive backs playing in this same game that are terrific. His rant was bad enough on TV and sounded horrible on radio.
One thing is for sure: he’s going to get a chance to prove his talents today against the greatest quarterback who has ever played.
My father told me once that the smartest or best looking or toughest person in the room never has to tell other people because everyone already knows it. A braggart is usually talking to themselves. Maybe so, maybe not.
Sherman is only one of many athletes and other celebrities who we will be subjected to in the future. He meant what he said, but he was talking to himself.
One thing I do know: I would have waited until after the Super Bowl to tell everyone how great I was. The key word here is – after. One other thing all of us should remember – it might be a good idea to just shut up.