Richard Sherman spoke in a press conference for the first time since the now viral interview following the NFC Championship victory against the San Francisco 49ers when he called wide receiver Michael Crabtree “sorry” and said he is the best cornerback in the game. It came minutes after sealing the Seahawks’ victory with a deflection of a pass to Crabtree in the end zone that linebacker Malcolm Smith corralled for the interception.
Here is most of what Sherman had to say:
It is what it is. Things like that happen and you deal with consequences of it, you deal with people’s opinions. I come from a place where it’s all adversity, so what’s a little more, what’s a little more people telling what you can do, what you are not going to do. What you’ve done. It’s always a little more of that.
I was really surprised. If I would have known it was going to blow up like that, I probably would have approached it differently. Just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates’ great games. Kam Chancellor played a fantastic football game, had an interception huge plays in the game, played almost a perfect ball game. Marshawn, freaking Beast Mode ran for 100 yards, plus. Had a great touchdown run, Bobby had 15 tackles, so many people had great games that you think you would the stories would be about them. That’s the one thing I feel kind of regretful about.
What surprised you more? The backlash or the support you’ve gotten?
I think the backlash because i think the support came after the backlash. I think everybody was surprised, even I was a little surprised by it. We are talking about football here and a lot of people took it a little further than football. I guess some people showed how far we’ve come in this day and age. It was kind of profound people’s opinions and things of that nature because I was on the football field showing passion, maybe it was misdirected, maybe it was a little immature, things could have been worded better. But this is on the football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes, doing anything illegal, I was showing passion after a football game. I didn’t have time to sit there and contemplate what I’m going to say, but people behind computer screens typing have all the time in the world to contemplate everything they are going to say and articulate it the exact way they want to. Some of it I’m sure they were pretty embarrassed about.
Now getting into the Super Bowl, it the message you spoke at your old school going to ring even more true for them?
I hope so. I hope it resonates a little more with them. there is no limit to what you can do. Regardless of how bizarre my story gets, especially in times like this, it’s still remarkable how a kid from Compton, a kid from humble beginnings, a story can resonate for any kid with humble beginnings or just any kid. You just have to understand that your circumstances don’t dictate your future. Your circumstances don’t control your limits. You are limitless, you are a limitless person, You are limited by your faith, your abilities, your trust in yourself, your hard work. If you can do as much as you want to do, if you go to school, get good grades, work as hard as you can, if you don’t have the materials, school books, things like that, people can help you, there are always people out there who want to help kids like that and I try to help as many as I can, but to not go out there and work as hard as you can and give yourself the best possible chance to be successful, you are doing yourself a disservice and that’s what I want kids to know.
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures and video from last year’s Super Bowl week. Can you imagine what that will be like?
I really can’t. I really can’t. But I imagine it’s going to be fun, and I’ll embrace it. And I’ll have my teammates there and we’ll enjoy the moment. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for us and we’ve worked hard to get here. It will be deserved for the whole team.
Who reached out to you about the interview?
There were countless people. Hank Aaron was one of them. There were countless players who reached out, obviously family members, a lot of friends, who I hadn’t talked to in a while reached out in support. I appreciated all of it. You appreciate people in your corner, great coaches like David Shaw in your corner. People that really appreciate you as a human, know what you stand for, who you are and aren’t as quick to judge. Because they really have an in depth view of who I am and what I’m about.
What is unique about Peyton Manning?
Really, It’s as if he is an offensive coordinator out there. At any given time he can change any play, any protection, any scheme. Schematically, you kind of notice what a team is going to do in the first couple drives of the game. Teams don’t just totally change their offense at halftime or run totally differen.t Plays. THey might run a play they found successful multiple times. BUt with Peyton, he’ll find a weakness in a defense, he’ll attack it in 4, 5 or 6 different ways. He’ll attack it with curls, the dig, he’ll throw an out to Wes Welker, they’ll run the out and up. He finds so many different ways to attack you. So once he finds a crack in the armor, he continues to knick at it until he makes it a hole.
You had a tip drill similar to the last game when you were last at MetLife Stadium. How are you able to take practice to play so well?
We practice really hard. I really give Pete a lot of credit for that, and I give Earl Thomas credit for how our defense practices because he plays at such a high level that he’ll be so frustrated that you’re not playing at a high level because it’s messing up his look. Because he doens’t know where you are going to be on gameday. If you are not going to be on time, if you are trailing and he is going full speed to save you then be trailing so you run full speed to save him. But if you are leading and he is running full speed over there, it’s wasting time, it’s not a good look. So we practice so hard that we have those plays in practice. In a game, we don’t treat it any different. We execute those plays in practice. That’s why moments like this, champisonhip moments, you don’t get lost in the game, you dont’ realize you are playihng in the biggest game of your life. You just know that you are tyring to make plays, you are just tyring to make sure they dont’ score, yo uare just doing whatever is needed to help your team win. If that’s tipping a ball back in, to to make sure a guy makes a play, that’s what you are doing. But it’s a testament to our practice habits.
How soon after the game were you watching film on Peyton Manning?
The next morning. With Peyton, you have to be on him quick because I know he was on us quick.
Do you look forward to facing a record-setting quarterback like Peyton Manning?
That’s what you want. You would want that. We really embrace that. As competitive as our team is, you woudn’t want it any other way. You want the best of the best, otherwise you don’t feel like you are getting the biggest challenge of your life. If you lose, you understand you lost to the best quarterback in the world, you can accept that, if you win, you understand you were playing the best quarterback in teh world. It is that much sweeter. It’s just a competitive drive in you. To be the best you have to beat the best.
People have talked about thiis being the villainous vs. the virtouous. Does that mean anything to you?
That’s hilarious, because anytime you label Russell Wilson a villain, he’s gotta be a villain, right?
Thoughts on Demaryius Thomas?
He’s one of the best receivers in the game right now. Since Peyton has arrived his game has elevated to another level.
They never really seem to give a similar look.
Exactly That’s a tribute to what Peyton is doing. He understands that defenses see the looks and recognizes personnel. When you have a quarterback like that, it’s hard to catch a break with him or a tendency.
They are probably going to come out and do the bunch formations, pick patterns, what do you have to do schematically to counter that?
Well, there are different ways. A lot of times middle linebacker will go “Bone” speed. That means he’ll look up at the Wes Welker’s of the world, or Demarious Thomas and just to combat that if we are in man coverage. That’s what the Patriots did from time to time, That’s one of the ways you can do it, but sometimes you have to slip screens and just fight through it. It’s a race, it’s a battle, sometimes that’s what football is. Man to man, that’s how it is, it’s a race route. They are racing, you are racing, it’s football.
You started by saying you felt bad the interview took away from your teammates. But they don’t seem bothered by it. Did you have private conversations with them or say anything to them?
No they are just great teammates. We are a family and we are really tight knit. A lot of team s say that but I think it really holds true for our team. I love them and I appreciate them and they would never say a bad thing about me. Even if it was true, even if they did feel that way, they are just fantastic players, fantastic men and that’s why I love them. But no, we didn’t have any private conversations, it was just a feeling in my heart. You want to see guys get the glory they deserve, the Kam Chancellors our there be labeled as one of the best safeties out there because he played like one of the best safeties out there. You want to see everybody get the recognition and acclaim they deserve.
Will be able to break the ‘Omaha’ code?
I feel like there is no Omaha code. I feel like he is just throwing it out there. He says it so much, it can’t just be for one play. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to break the Omaha code because we don’t’ get soundbites in the film. If we did, I’d try my best, I’d tell you that.
You said in your Monday Morning QB piece that Peyton Manning is the smartest quarterback you will go up against, but you also talked about his tendency to throw ducks. Any regrets?
No, he still does it. They are accurate as ever. He throws spirals, and they are there. He will throw a wobbler and it will get there just the same. He really doesn’t care how he throws the ball because it gets there all the same, accurately and on point. That’s what makes him a great quarterback. Sometimes he will catch it without the laces and he’ll throw it out there and it is on point. He doesn’t care. And the receivers don’t care because shoot, all of them have 10 touchdowns right now.
Given backlash of what’s happened past few days, will it change way you talk or what you say?
No, I don’t know how to be anybody else. I can only be myself. I can only be myself and try to work situations like that better and be more mature about situations and understand the moment. You can’t be anybody else. You can’t make yourself up, it’s gotten us this far. It’s hard to be somebody else. I can only be myself.
Anytime at Stanford you tired to change who you are?
I’ve tried multiple times. It just hurts my game. If you catch me after I’m putting my all into the game, you might get something like what happened after the game. I put my all into the game. everything. I’m at home watching film. I haven’t talked to my family as much and they understand because I’m putting my all into the game. You leave everything out there and your victories, it is what it is.
Is there a point when you switch to that mode? Where it’s all on.
As soon as I get on the bus, headed to the game. I’m in my zone. it would be hard for someone to call me, I wouldn’t answer my phone. Once I flip my switch, I sit right next to Earl Thomas, every game, same seat. It’s game on.
Marshawn’s got beast mode, You got a name for it?
No, no name.
What have you learned from Muhammad Ali and how he handled things?
He took it head on. He didn’t run from it. He stood his ground and his circumstances were incredibly higher. He dealt with stuff at levels 100 times what they are now. Those are things I feel I may be missing out on. I feel my game might be 20 years too late. Maybe I watched those guys too much. Maybe I studies the Ali’s Deion Sanders, Michael Irvins, I studies the old-school game more than the new school and I play that way. It rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Giving a true passionate speech after a game is old-school football. Playing press coverage, sitting up there every play is old-school football. Maybe I just haven’t adjusted to the times.
Do you think fans are more sympathetic after you explained?
I don’t think they’ll ever give me no sympathy. Obviously it was bad timing, but after the game there weren’t a lot of handshakes,. Just like I said in the press conference. Guys just pretty much walked off the field.
What does having guys so passionate do for your team?
I think everyday it gives you something to look at, gives you an example every day. There are times you go to work every day and you are locked in. But you might have an off day, something at home isn’t going well, But then you look at Earl Thomas locked in, he’s going as hard as he can, you go, ‘Why would i let a guy like that down?’ He’s giving his all regardless of what is going on at home. Russell WIlson is giving me everything he’s got regardless of what is going on everywhere else in his life. YOu want to give them everything you got. It’s about as positive an influence as you can have.
Any regrets on the choke sign?
No man, it was the Reggie Miller.
If you are portrayed as the villains, is that something you can feed off of?
No, I don’t think we would accept that. We have too many great players, who don’t deserve that label and that light. THe Russell Wilsons, Earl Thomases, and Kam Chancellors have done nothing to deserve that. Well, I guess I can’t say Kam, he’s a bad boy. They have done nothing to deserve that label. If they label me a villain, it is what it is. Maybe I did something to deserve that.
People say the old cliche, don’t judge a book by its cover, but they are judging me by my cover. THey don’t judge me how I am on the football field, during the game, after the game, and they are not judging me about who I am. Now if I had been arrested 10 times, or committed all these crimes or suspended for fighting off the field, I am going to accept being a villain, but I’ve done nothing villainous.
Of all the backlash, does the word thug bother you more than anything?
It does. Because it seems like the acceptable word for the ‘N’ word. Everybody else says the ‘N’ word and someone says thug and they go ‘oh, that’s fine.’ That’s where it kind of takes be back and is kind of disappointing. What is the definition of a thug? Really? Can a guy on the football field, maybe I”m talking loudly or when I’m not supposed to, but there was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey. THey just threw their gloves down and started fighting. I saw that and I was like, ‘I”m the thug?’ Jeez! I really get disappointing being called a thug.
I know some thugs, they know I’m the furthest thing from a thug. I have fought that my whole life, just coming from where I come from. You hear COmpton, you think he’s a thug and this and that and the other. Then you hear Stanford and youre like ‘That doesn’t even make sense. That’s an Oxymoron.” YOu fight it for so long. Then to have it come back up again, it’s frustrating.