Richard Sherman: I'm no villain

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Wednesday that his postgame comments Sunday were ''misdirected and immature" but he is not a villain or a thug.

"We're talking about football here, and a lot of people took it further than football," Sherman said. "I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected and immature, but this is a football field. I wasn't committing any crimes and doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game.

"It is what it is. Things like that happen and you deal with the adversity. I come from a place where it's all adversity, so what's a little more or people telling you what you can't do. I really was surprised. If I had known it was going to blow up like that I would have approached it differently, just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates. That's the thing I feel regretful about."

Sherman tipped away a pass in the end zone that was intended for San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree in the final seconds of Seattle's 23-17 victory Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted the tipped pass to seal the victory.

Moments later, Sherman was interviewed on Fox Sports and was asked to describe the play.

"I'm the best corner in the game,'' Sherman said, yelling. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're gonna get. Don't you ever talk about me."

Sherman then was asked who was talking about him.

"Crabtree,'' he said. "Don't you open your mouth about the best, or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick."

Sherman's comments became a national rage and caused a firestorm of criticism on Twitter.

Sherman was most concerned by the people who called him a thug.

"The reason it bothers me is it seems that's the accepted way now to call someone the N-word," Sherman said. "They say thug, and that takes me aback. Maybe I'm talking loudly on the field and saying things I'm not supposed to, but there was hockey game where they didn't even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I thought, 'Oh man. I'm the thug? Geez.'"

Sherman was referring to the Vancouver Canucks-Calgary Flames game last Saturday when a brawl took place two seconds into the game.

"I know some real thugs, and they know I'm the farthest thing from a thug,'' Sherman said. "I fought that my whole life because of where I've come from [the Compton neighborhood in Los Angeles]. You have a guy from Compton or Watts, they just think he's a thug. He's a gangster. You fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and hear people use it again is frustrating."

Sherman's postgame rant has led some pundits to dub the Super Bowl matchup against the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning as The Villains versus The Virtuous.

"That's hilarious," Sherman said. "Any time you label [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson a villain, it's got to be a joke. It's funny. We have too many great players who don't deserve that label and don't deserve to be looked at in that light. Russell Wilson and [Seattle safety] Earl Thomas have done nothing to deserve that.

"Now if they label me a villain, OK. Maybe my actions caused that, but I don't think I'm a villain. It's the old cliché: Don't judge a book by its cover. But they are judging the book by its cover. Judge me off the football field, not on the field right after a game is different. Now if I had gotten arrested 10 times, I could accept being a villain. But I've done nothing villainous."

Wilson came to Sherman's defense Wednesday.

"Richard has tremendous character,'' Wilson said. "He got fired up and I guess you would call it a mistake. But I know that's not how he is. He is one of the most intelligent people you will ever meet. He's one of my good friends, and I love him to death.

"Richard is an unbelievable football player. I have tons of respect for him. He plays the game of football with tons of passion and tons of fire. It was one of those things where he just got excited. I know he apologized. He's a great teammate who always is focused on how he can improve and how he can help us win. He didn't mean to blow it all up."

Sherman said he was grateful for the people who came to his defense the past few days, including baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

"There were countless individuals, and Hank Aaron was one of them," Sherman said. "A lot of people reached out with support and I appreciate all of it, people who really know who you are and what you stand for. They are not as quick to judge."

Sherman said he has regrets, but he won't change who he is.

"I really don't know how to be anybody else,'' he said. "I can only be myself. I obviously will learn from my mistakes, try to do better in word situations and be more mature in understanding the moment.

"But I can't be someone else. I've tried it multiple times, and it cuts my game. If I put my all into it, you may catch me doing something like I did at the end of that game."