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Richard Sherman, Erin Andrews kick off Super Bowl XLVIII hype

Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman holds up the George

Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman holds up the George Halas Trophy 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) Credit: AP

The hype for Super Bowl XLVIII unofficially began moments after the Seahawks' victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, when what merely had been an entertaining football game turned into a classic bit of sports TV theater.

Naturally, I am referring to Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman's angry diatribe aimed at 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, with Fox interviewer Erin Andrews - the nation's most well-known sideline reporter - as an innocent bystander.

As you know by now, when Andrews asked Sherman to discuss the game-deciding play on which he tipped a ball away from Crabtree in the end zone - allowing it to be intercepted by a teammate - the outspoken Seattle defender said this:

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

When Andrews asked Sherman who was talking about him, Sherman said, “Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m going to shut it for you real quick! L.O.B.!"

(The Seahawks defense uses the nickname "Legion of Boom.")

Fox's producer eventually put an end to the interview.

Andrews handled herself well given the strange, somewhat shocking circumstances, but Sherman didn't. He came off as crass and classless . . . which did not stop Fox from interviewing him twice more in the next little while, once on the trophy podium and once on the set with its studio hosts.

ESPN got him, too, of course.

Soon the Sherman-Crabtree feud had spilled onto Twitter, as 21st-century rules of engagement say that it must.

Around noon ET on Monday, Sherman explained it all from his perspective in a piece for SI's MMQB here.

Look for much, much more in the coming two weeks from Sherman, who like all players will speak to the media for an hour on three consecutive days during Super Bowl week, and probably for a fourth hour on Sunday or Monday, as do most star players.

As for Andrews, she absolved Sherman on a much-retweeted tweet late Sunday night, writing, "Richard Sherman gave a candid response seconds after an emotional game..looking forward to a great Super Bowl matchup."

For a time the term "Poor Erin Andrews" was trending nationally on Twitter.

When someone tweeted at Andrews that they were sorry she had been "scared" by Sherman, she responded, "Ha! Not even close! Loved the emotion! Can't wait for NY."

This hardly is the first media-madness go-round for the Stanford-educated Sherman, who went after ESPN's Skip Bayless on "First Take" back in March.

Other things happened Sunday, too, such as Fox showing the horrific leg injury that took out the 49ers' NaVorro Bowman many, many times - too many for many viewers with delicate constitutions.

Perhaps Fox did show the snapped left leg one or two times more than necessary, but in fairness, the play on which it happened was enormously important at the time - and also complex and confusing.

Bowman appeared to recover a Seahawks fumble just outside the end zone, except that he didn't, for reasons that were greatly confusing no matter how many times Fox tried to explain it.

Fox's coverage generally was solid, although there were some odd moments, such as sideline reporter Pam Oliver asserting the stadium in Seattle wasn't all that loud - an observation seemingly shared by no one else who was in attendance - and the network failing to show a single replay of a nifty touchdown pass on which Colin Kaepernick launched the ball while jumping in the air.

There were replays of the catch in the end zone, but not the throw.

Anyway, it's on to the big game now, which Fox will telecast at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2, many, many spoken and written words from now.

In addition to Sherman, media stars obviously will include Peyton Manning and the two coaches - John Fox and Pete Carroll - each of whom has New York media experience and should handle the nuttiness without much problem.

The hype will simmer this week - helped in part by Sherman's escapade - then reach its full expression next week in an unprecedented meeting of the Super Bowl and Gotham.

It should be combustible, just like what happened after Sunday's game on Fox.

Isn't that the way we like it?


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