Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has apologized a day after targeting the play of San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree with several harsh rebukes after Sunday night's NFC Championship win.
Sherman's deflection of a pass intended for Crabtree in the end zone during the closing minute, which bounced into the grasp of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, sealed the 23-17 win over the visiting 49ers to earn Seattle a matchup with the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
"I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates ... That was not my intent," Sherman said Monday in a text message to ESPN's Ed Werder.
Sherman also addressed his postgame comments in an interview Monday with ESPN Radio on the "SVP and Russillo" show.
"Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently," he said during the interview. "But it is what it is now, and people's reactions are what they are."
His former college coach, Stanford's David Shaw, said Sherman's trash-talking image helped fuel the backlash.
"Personally, I love Richard, but I won't say that it's unfair. That (trash-talking image) is what he's chosen," Shaw said during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Tuesday morning. "That quick interview -- that quick, explosive show of emotion and energy after a football game -- that's why we try to get our players to give interviews about 15-20 minutes after a football game as opposed to 2 minutes after a football game.
"But that's what he showed people, and people are going to form that initial opinion of him, which is fine. That's part of who Richard is. That's part of how you get to be a great football player."
Sherman was rarely targeted by San Francisco, with most of the throws going toward Sherman's teammate Byron Maxwell. But 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick challenged the All-Pro with 22 seconds left to play.
Sherman stayed with Crabtree, leaped and batted the ball into the air with his left hand. That allowed Smith to run underneath and make the interception that clinched the victory. It was San Francisco's third turnover in the fourth quarter.
"I knew if I tipped it high enough, someone would get there," Sherman said.
After the interception, Sherman ran over to Crabtree and gave him a pat on the backside then appeared to extend his arm for a handshake. Instead, Sherman got shoved in the face before picking up a personal foul as his celebration continued.
"I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver," Sherman said in his postgame news conference. "And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now. There has been a lot of talk from him running his mouth about me."
Shaw said the trash-talking image is just one part of who Sherman is as a player and not all about who he is as a person.
"He's a great person, a great kid. He works extremely hard and studies the game," Shaw said. "There's a side to him. You want, as some coaches call it, 'that dog.' You want that dog in your player out there.
"It's unfortunate that people will judge him based on that. It's up to Richard, with all these eyes on him now, to continue to show people the other side of him."
Sherman, 25, led the league with eight interceptions this season. The two-time Pro Bowler has 20 career interceptions in three seasons, all with Seattle.
Sherman attempted to explain his mindset and provide context for his postgame tirade in a column posted Monday morning on mmqb.com. Sherman also responded to widespread criticism, some of which he alleged was racist in nature, that he has received since the game.
"To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field -- don't judge a person's character by what they do between the lines," Sherman wrote in the column posted on mmqb.com. "Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.
"But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you'll see from me. It's sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it."
Sherman also took to Twitter on Monday to reply to some racially fueled backlash.
Last night shows that racism is still alive and well... And that's so sad.... At Least some people respect MLKs dream
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2014
Sherman said his issues with Crabtree go back to something that happened during the offseason.
"He said something personal face-to-face," Sherman said. "He knows what he said, and he knows I'm going to be tough on him the rest of his career."
ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson contributed to this report.