Seahawks 30 under 30: When you know Richard Sherman is coming, it’s already too late
The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.
Player: Richard Sherman, CB
How acquired: Fifth round pick (154th overall) out of Stanford in 2011 NFL Draft
Free agent: 2019
Richard Sherman is a bad man.
Bad in the sense of being a person you’d rather avoid. He’s the Matt-Damon-in-the-“How do you like them apples?”-scene-from-Good-Will-Hunting of the NFL. He’s the guy you pick a fight with only if you have a terrible home life and you want to get attention from your mom and dad after you get kicked out of school for fighting — and losing. Sherman is the type to wreck your life without even touching you. He beats players in a battle of psychological warfare long before pads are put on. Right now as you read this in the first week of September, Sherman’s already winning one-on-one battles against receivers in December because they know the day is coming.
The day they disappoint their fantasy owners. The day they produce jackshit while doing the one thing they’ve loved doing since they were 10-years-old: catch footballs. “That’s literally your job? Sorry, not today. This is Richard Sherman day.” It’s on the calendar. They’ve put a red circle around that day. Jordy Nelson, Larry Fitzgerald, Kelvin Benjamin, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall — they know what day is “Richard Sherman Day” already. You can trust that. But you might as well run a red line diagonal down the center of that red circle on Richard Sherman Day.
Because this is a bad man.
A college wide receiver in 2008, Sherman was a top-five NFL cornerback by 2011. It’s the first start of his career, delayed perhaps only because he was an afterthought to many after getting drafted in the fifth round only six months earlier, and Sherman is facing off against A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals — he went 150 picks ahead of Sherman that year, but Green finished the day with four catches on 10 targets, 63 yards, and a touchdown. Not a bad day for Green, but his 43-yard touchdown came against Earl Thomas, not Sherman, and ProFootballFocus officially had Green with three catches for 25 yards when guarded by Sherman. And that’s not all: Sherman had his first career interception that day while covering Green.
Afterwards, he told reporters that Green was “overrated” and he announced himself to the other 30 teams that day.
Interpretation: “Do you like apples?”
Fast forward five years and Sherman has accumulated three All-Pro nods, three Pro Bowl nods, 26 interceptions, five more than any other player in that time despite QBs often avoiding his side of the field like it just drank all the water in Rio. The criticism directed towards Sherman, like that he holds, or that he benefits from Pete Carroll’s defensive system, or that he only plays one side of the field, or that he’s only good because Earl Thomas is good, exists mostly because he’s bold, brash, talkative, and when he lines up against your team’s favorite wide receiver, he eradicates their dreams.
When Sherman covers a wide receiver, it’s sort of like when the girl in The Ring comes out of the well — you’re finished before you’re touched. You’re dead before you can react. To put it another way: danger is the danger. You’ve thought about how to beat Sherman so often that you’ve beaten yourself. That’s how Sherman gets in your head. Not just because he talks, but because he backs up the talk. Former Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell used to talk a lot of trash too, but most people don’t know that — or who he is — because he could never back it up.
Not so with Sherman. He’s a bad man but worst of all ... he knows it.
Now 28 years old, paid, popular, and successful, Sherman enters what could be the prime of his career. Many NFL superstars peak when they’re young, and who knows yet if that could be the case with Sherman, but as pro offenses pass more and more, with seemingly every team having two 1,000-yard receivers, talented corners like Sherman will become increasingly valuable. Facing off against quarterbacks and receivers unlike anything the league has ever seen, a true shutdown elite corner like Sherman could make a serious case for being an MVP if everything broke right. That’s how good he’s been and that’s how valuable he could be this season if he’s on his game.
That’s something Sherman is well aware of and I’m sure he’s told teammates, opponents, and anyone who will listen just how phenomenal he will be this year. Not because he’s cocky. Not because he needs to assert himself as an alpha NFL player with his words, when he’s already doing so with his play. No, he only does it because he’s a bad man.
And that’s good.
Kenneth Arthur | fieldgulls.com | September 4, 2016