Even In A Loss, Seahawks' Richard Sherman Wins The Week
This week alone, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has had to publicly deal with a loss in the Super Bowl, an odd controversy concerning the timing of his girlfriend's pregnancy, a snarky remark from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and, according to a report by ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, a Tommy John injury to his left elbow that will likely require surgery.
Through it all, Sherman has emerged as an NFL sage of sorts, proffering opinions to a range of questions with insight and depth. This week alone, he took shots at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the Patriots franchise and the entire structure of college sports. Even in a loss, Sherman seems to have won the week with his comments.
"I kind of go to the beat of my own drum," Sherman said. "If people feel a certain way, you know, everybody has an opinion and I also have my own opinion. I have my own way of doing things and it might not align with everybody. But I'm going to keep it that way."
And that includes his approach to fatherhood. Sherman caught some flak earlier in the week when he declined to address a hypothetical choice between the game and the birth of his son.
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal," Sherman said. "He's close but he's not expected to come this weekend. I was surprised at how big, I guess a game like this, a story like this, you can't pass it up. I was just surprised it was a national headline."
Really? Sherman seems to grab national headlines as easily as he captures opposing quarterback's passes. In what seems like ancient history given a 2014 season with enough news to fill a decade, Sherman was actually the bad guy.
Remember the 2013 NFC Championship, when Sherman gave sideline Erin Andrews an earful on live TV. He was annoyed by San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, and flush with adrenaline after the win.
"Don't you open your mouth about the best, or you know, I'm gonna shut it for you real quick!" Sherman said.
To some, the soliloquy branded Sherman as a thug, the big bad wolf, the man your mother warned you about. He was reduced to an angry sound bite. Of course, you can never judge a person by one moment and a microphone. But there was a national debate: Did Sherman cross the line?
Those who knew Sherman were quick to point out that the debate about that moment didn't seem to include much about the man Sherman actually was -- a Stanford graduate who finished his masters with his final year of eligibility, and a locker room leader. On Sunday, he stood next to Russell Wilson in the pregame huddle as the Seahawks were about to compete in a second straight Super Bowl.
And that Sherman -- the thinker -- is the one we've seen this season. In a league in which speaking out can cost endorsements and alienate your employer, the cornerback has offered a fearless cultural commentary, even when it might hurt his own relationships within the league.
For example, Sherman was asked how he felt about teammate Marshawn Lynch and his reluctance to talk to the media. A no-win question, right?
Not for Sherman.
"I don't think they should be obligated any more than the commissioner is obligated to speak to the media," Sherman said.
Goodell was asked about Sherman's comment at his Super Bowl news conference and made the unverifiable claim that he's available almost every day. In all actuality, the commissioner is more like Lynch than he may want to admit.
Sherman's likeability may have gone way up, but not so much because he's changed. It's more because he's better understood.
Sherman hasn't given up the taunting. During the Super Bowl he appeared to get into it with Brady, was singled out by Brandon Browner for an uncomfortably close face-to-face and appeared to call out Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis for getting beaten on Doug Baldwin's touchdown. He looked at the camera and showed a two and a four with his fingers -- Revis is No. 24.
As sharp as Sherman can be, he clearly loves the game he plays, and wants to pass that down to his son.
"Oh, 100 percent, 100 percent," Sherman said in the week leading up to the game. "Football will be probably one of the first or second sports he plays, along with baseball and soccer and all the other fun sports. Because a lot of people talk about the negative aspects of football, and there are many, but there are also a lot of positives that you learn as a kid."
The loss is difficult, but Sherman turned his attention fully to his growing family as the offseason begins.
"I am looking forward to it. It's one of those things that's a life-changer," Sherman said after the game. "I'm looking forward to raising my son, to meet him and to teach him the things that I know."
Hope the kid is ready to hear about the inequities inherent in the NCAA.