The past two weeks have seen a lot of pearl-clutching and racist vitriol over the post-game interview given after the NFC Championship by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. The stakes are even higher at the Super Bowl—and if Sherman is involved in a critical play, the potential for a sequel looms, tantalizingly. But should that occur, we'd be in store for yet another cycle of media outrage that discounts the extent to which we expect athletes to compete at an impossible level and then act as 3rd grade teachers in the afterglow. This is bullsh—. If I were a NFL player experiencing the euphoric highs of career-defining glory on the national stage, there is no way I would embody anything remotely akin to "decorum" in my post-game chats.
No, my interviews would go more like this.
Imagine: The clock has just zeroed out. In the second before it did so, I watched, mid-stride, as the opposing quarterback skittered backward, surveyed the field, and identified an opportunity—broken coverage, a streaking man in the clear. Anticipating the throw, I broke from my coverage and sprint toward the ball's destination. It went up. I followed, and my fingertips reached it before those of its intended recipient.The ball fell to the ground. The clock extinguished.
We prevailed, and now I am five feet, four inches of football royalty, a machine at the peak of human achievement, fueled by rage and adrenaline A shiver rips through me as the shrieking of the crowd vibrates my body to the marrow; overhead, clouds materialize and start in on their work of blotting out the sky. A chilled wind begins to whip, rifling through clipboards full of papers.
In that moment I am invincibility manifest, every bit a denizen of Olympus. I let out a blood-curdling wail. This joy, this raw, unfettered emotion, is intoxicating. I jump high in the air in apparent defiance of physical law, daring the crowd to condemn my celebration. It is an encore of my showcase of athletic prowess. The return of my golden feet to the humble, painted earth triggers a thunderclap that rings out hard in my ears. As teammates rush to pay tribute, I gulp down thick lungfuls of the cold air and calmly walk over to a reporter, smiling broadly in mocking anticipation of uninspired questioning. I am the one who matters.
"The final play," she says. "Take me through it."
The padded microphone tips towards me; before it arrives, a dagger of lighting rips the sky in two, anointing me with light, the photons bouncing off the curves of my teeth. A primal noise, wordless and uninhibited, comes pouring out of my throat like a swarm of fire ants, my hot breath imposing its will on the frigid air, leaving wisps of steam in its wake. As the wind carries this howl of my celebration across the throngs of onlooking bodies, the sound bleeding from my mouth evolves from a rumble to a piercing scream.
Through the vibrato of my cry, the reporter presses on: "What does this moment mean to you?"
I stop. In silence, I turn to the camera with the fiendish leer of a soul ablaze. From beneath my right shoulder pad I remove an entire pig liver, bleeding and cold. I mash it into my mouth, chewing with long, deliberate strokes, eyes closed in reverence. My head tilts back, exposing my face to the heavens, and a deep laugh takes form behind the viscera of a metaphor spilling uncontrolled from my gaping maw. The cackle barrels past the bits of capillary and smooth offal stuck in my teeth, rolling fast and sharp into a series of panting shrieks. This grotesque sound, not unlike the pulsating bowels of a giant, stills the air. Beneath me, the earth begins to split at the 40 yard-line.
Seeing this, my celebration throbs. I train my eyes anew onto the camera lens. They are hot with the bright gleam of remorseless success. With a single motion of my hulking expanse, I grab the meat of my bicep and tear it straight off the bone. Moistening my lips with perversion and glee, I rub the flat, pale pink of my tongue against the vermilion trophy, lapping at my bleeding muscle, kissing it with the tenderness of a lover. People around me begin to vomit, falling to their knees, unable to look away. From my depths I feel it rising, churning through me, exploding from my mouth with such fury as to make my saliva run warm and thin:
“AND SO ... IT BEGINS!”
The camera is baptized in flecks of meat and spit and sweat. People are running; others stand motionless, transfixed. The wet sky splits open like a blister as the cameraman bobs back and forth, desperate to capture the sleet as it streaks across my holy flesh. The weather pounds us, rhythmic and hollow and cold, meeting the heat of my empire. My skin softly steams in the chill of the storm.
"I, uh …" the reporter stammers, delaying her inevitable acquiescence. "Back to you, Joe."
The cameras cut away.
The cameras will never cut away.
Leigh Cowart is a freelance journalist covering sports, science, and sex. Her work has appeared in The Classical, Deadspin, Vice, and NSFWCORP, among other places. Follow her @voraciousbrain. Not for the faint of heart.