Seattle is not a city of showboaters or salesmen. It’s historically a stoic place, one of humble underpinnings where actions speak louder than words.
That’s why cornerback Richard Sherman’s off-the-charts defensive play and subsequent comments in the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers rattled our psyche a bit.
Here was a man who not only made the play of the game, an amazing tipped pass to oncoming teammate Malcolm Smith, but had the gall to rub it into the face of the opponent and then talk with wide-eyed emotion about it.
Seattle didn’t know what to do with Sherman. Embrace, laugh, shrug or condemn?
Loud outbursts of grandiosity aren’t our style, and they certainly don’t play into the age-old stereotype of “Seattle nice.” We don’t talk about what we do here. We just do it, oftentimes in an offbeat style.
In other words, Seattle is more Russell Wilson — the low-key, humble and crafty QB of the Seahawks — than the motor-mouth of Sherman. Or, perhaps, even closer to the mysterious Marshawn Lynch who had this to say when cornered by Deion Sanders for a rare interview Tuesday during the Super Bowl’s “Media Day.”
“I am just about that action, boss. That’s what it is. I ain’t never say no talking win me nothing. Yep, been like that since I was little. Was raised like that. You want something, you go get it. Ain’t no need to talk about it.”
Oh, yeah. That’s the traditional Seattle style — an ethos that has spawned some big ideas. And, personally, I love it.
But maybe, just maybe a few Sherman-esque outbursts is what this city needs, especially the burgeoning startup community.
A spark. A fire. Raw emotion.
I’ve had countless conversations in recent months with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists talking about Seattle and where it is headed. The discussion goes something like this: “We’ve got so many amazing things happening here, but no one really knows it. We need to raise our profile.”
That’s easier said, than done. Raising one’s profile — and in this case altering it — comes with risks. And it’s not for everyone.
But you’ve got to ask yourself: Would Muhammad Ali have risen to the prominence that he did without swagger?
New York gets attention because it thinks — and talks — big. Startup champions such as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and venture capitalist Fred Wilson aren’t afraid to lead with personality.
Making something amazing — a knockout; an interception; an app; or a piece of software — and then talking big about it should not be frowned upon.
It’s not something we do particularly well in Seattle. But maybe Sherman can help lead the way, challenging our entrepreneurs to not only do something great, but to do it with personality and panache.
We’ve got the Beast Mode-style down pretty well in Seattle. Now, imagine if we added just a touch of the swagger of the Legion of Boom?