After everything Richard Sherman has been through since the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, the All-Pro cornerback realizes the most important place to be to ensure continued success is on the practice field.
He made the play – The Immaculate Deflection – that got the Seahawks into the Super Bowl, and then helped them win it in convincing fashion.
He was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in interceptions.
Since that 43-8 dismantling of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, Richard Shermanhas been a fan favorite during the celebration parade through the streets of downtown Seattle; broken bread and gotten a shout out from President Barack Obama at the White House Press Corps dinner; been honored along with his teammate at the White House, where he presented the President with a 12 Flag and, yes, got another shout out; filmed a commercial about eating healthier with First Lady Michelle Obama and teammates Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson; done another commercial with his mother, Beverly, for Campbell’s Chunky Soup; and signed a contract extension that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
And Friday, he was voted the cover player for the Madden NFL 15 video game.
But Monday, just like just about every other day during this offseason for the Super Bowl champions, Sherman was not only where he belongs, he was doing the things that make him special during the Seahawks’ OTA session.
Afterward, coach Pete Carroll was asked if he is at all concerned about all these potential distractions, well, distracting the player who has more interceptions (20) and passes defenses (60) than any player in the league the past three seasons.
“Richard has had a great offseason,” Carroll said. “I don’t know that he’s maybe missed a day the whole time. His work ethic is perfect. His attitude, every day he’s here. His competitiveness, every day. He does a great job of leading in that regard.”
Missed a day? Sherman has rarely missed a beat since the players reconvened for the start of the offseason program on April 21.
Right on cue, the media had to wait for Sherman after practice on Monday because he had to lift weights first. That’s because despite the pomp, the circumstance and the new contract, Sherman remains “the raggedy dog,” as the former fifth-round draft choice referred to himself after the news conference last month to announce his extension.
“Still the raggedy dog. That never goes away,” Sherman said, despite his enhanced pedigree. “You can’t change how you were raised. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can’t take away where he’s from. That’s what it’s always going to come down to.”
Still, the Madden cover and ceremony in Los Angeles where it was announced Sherman had been voted onto it over Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was hardly a dog-day afternoon.
“It was cool. It was really cool,” Sherman said. “It was a great experience. It’s always an honor being picked for Madden. It’s a fun deal.”
One that he lobbied to share with his secondary mates in the Legion of Boom – Thomas, the All-Pro free safety; Kam Chancellor, the All-Pro strong safety; and Byron Maxwell, the newest boom on the block after stepping in as the starting corner opposite Sherman in December.
“I’ve been trying to get the Legion of Boom on the cover, and EA has been fighting me,” Sherman said. “So if everybody wants to start a petition to get the Legion of Boom on the cover, here it is, here’s an open invitation.”
And, from the sounds of it, the line to sign that petition forms behind Sherman.
Despite everything he’s been through – and invited to – Sherman has not forgotten those who helped get him to his current status, or the events that have gone into it.
“It’s been unbelievable. It’s one of those years to remember, obviously,” Sherman said. “Just winning the Super Bowl and then all the accolades and all the things that came along with it were wonderful. You can never quantify what that means; you can never expect the things that happened to happen.
“But you take it for what it is and you enjoy the moment and you get ready to do it again.”
This brings us back to Sherman and how he has found time to mix all the magic with the maintenance. Sherman knows what went into last season, and he has spent this offseason preparing for a repeat performance – or a continuation of that performance, if you will.
And with that comes helping the younger players – a group that includes cornerback Tharold Simon, a draft choice last year who spent his rookie season on injured reserve; Eric Pinkins, a draft choice this year who also has the size and length the Seahawks like in their defensive backs; and DeShawn Shead, who is so versatile that Sherman called him “the Swiss army knife for us.”
“You can show them better than you can tell them,” Sherman said. “You can do it with your actions. You fly to ball. You run hard. You play hard. You play disciplined-styled football. And when they have questions, you’re there to answer all their questions. You push them. You make sure they know their assignments.”
And you do it day to day, every day. Even during the “voluntary” portion of the offseason program.
“For the continuity and the consistency, you have to be there,” Sherman said.
Then Sherman was reminded that these sessions are voluntary.
“It’s voluntary, but I’m a ballplayer,” he said. “What else am I going to be doing? When you’re a ballplayer at the heart and this is what you sleep, breathe and eat, than this is where you want to be. I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else because you just feel the itch to be back on the field, to be back with your teammates, to be back out there getting better.
“Because, like they say, you never stay the same; either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse. And if you’re not on the field, it’s hard to get better.”
Take it from someone who’s been here, there and seemingly everywhere this offseason.
By | Clare Farnsworth