I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I would be the biggest Richard Sherman fan if he had on any other jersey besides the one of the Seattle Seahawks. As a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan, I couldn’t fix my face to root for a rival. It’s similar to when Deion Sanders left Candlestick Park to suit up in Cowboy Stadium.
Like “Primetime,” Sherman has the chance to become the league’s premier lockdown cornerback and he’s not afraid to let anybody know it. This makes him the closest thing to the cocky, throwback cover men of the 90s. You know, the ones who saw political correctness and took a step the other way.
Some chose to walk that path out of necessity while others leaned towards it simply because they had no filter. But Sherman’s reasoning is a slight blend of both combined with the skills of a bona fide communications major.
“Things I do probably look like madness, like I’m totally out of control, but there’s always a plan,” he said to Sports Illustrated back in July. “It’s part of a greater scheme to get some eyes, to grow the market, to grow Seattle.”
That kind of explains why the Stanford grad stared into the Fox cameras and cut a great old school wrestling promo. Even going as far to end the chat with a shout out to his defensive backs, known as the Legion of Boom (an ode to the WWE‘s legendary Legion of Doom).
It was a clever way for Sherman to market himself to the casual football fan. That type of fan likely didn’t realize his ability to bait quarterbacks into thinking that their receivers are open has him one career interception behind Darrelle Revis even though the Compton native’s career is four years his junior.
His mouth gave him the national notoriety that playing in a small market couldn’t. So questioning Revis’ status, embarrassing ESPN’s resident villain (Skip Bayless) and going after the NFL’s golden child (Tom Brady) were perfect for getting his name into every household.
Now people don’t have to wonder who the guy is with the dreads is in the Nike and Beats by Dre commercials. They can put the face with the name and the talent and realize why he’s the lone defender in the top 10 in jersey sales. But the price of being boisterous has also opened him up to the backlash.
In the past four days, Sherman has been called everything from a dumb thug to the “n-word.” However, what some narrow-minded people do not realize is that his edge doesn’t come from ignorance. It comes from the boulder on his shoulder of being picked No. 154 in the draft. It’s the same edge that quarterbacks Brady and Aaron Rodgers have shown after dropping to No. 199 and No. 24. And everyone loves them for getting on their teammates and chasing down referees. Yet Sherman gets the Jay Cutler treatment.
I understand that he can have the diva-ish ways of an offensive player — which he once was — but in the words of LeBron James, “I don’t know one ‘thug’ that graduated from Stanford [with a 3.9 GPA] and also working on their Masters!”
The truth is you don’t have to like him, but his combination of brains and talent will make you respect him — even if you don’t expect it. Just ask 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who challenged him twice and will be watching Super Bowl XLVIII from his home as a result.