On the day after his outburst in a TV interview, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman apologized and Stanford Coach David Shaw helped explain what makes his former player tick.
Sherman boasted of being the NFL’s best cornerback after the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl and called Michael Crabtree a “mediocre receiver” in a rant with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews. Only moments before, Sherman had made a game-saving play against Crabtree in the endzone, sealing the NFC championship game win. By late Monday afternoon, Sherman, a communications major from Stanford, was sorry for the distraction.
“Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently,” he said in an interview on ESPN Radio’s “SVP and Russillo” show. “But it is what it is now, and people’s reactions are what they are.”
He also sent an apology to ESPN’s Ed Werder: “I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates … That was not my intent.” Sherman first explained the outburst, which caused an intense sports talk and social media reaction, in greater detail in a column addressed “to those that would call me a thug or worse” that he writes for MMQB.com. Then he met with Coach Pete Carroll. “He was really clear that the last thing he wanted to do was take something away from our team, what we had accomplished,” Carroll said.
After tipping away a pass intended for Crabtree into the hands of Malcolm Smith, Sherman ran up to Crabtree, patted him on the butt and appeared to extend his hand for a handshake. But Crabtree shoved him in the face and Sherman went on to make a choke sign, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct flag. Sherman realized that his interview was poorly received and wrote on MMQB that “it was loud, it was in the moment, but it was just a small part of who I am.” He also continued to interact on Twitter.
The story of Sherman’s rise has been well and often told. The son of a social worker and garbage-truck driver in Compton, Calif., he was a straight-A high school student and played for San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh when he was at Stanford. Shaw, part of that staff and a friend of Sherman’s, knows about the Seahawks player’s kind side — as well as his drive.
“Richard was the first to raise his hand [to volunteer for community events. He was there at the beginning [of an event for people with Down syndrome], and he stayed past the end,” Shaw said (via the San Jose Mercury News). “He is the farthest thing from a thug you can imagine. Thugs don’t volunteer to help out at Special Olympics when they’re in high school. But the flip side is a guy who’s ultracompetitive. You put him in that environment, where the game is very personal, and when the gauntlet’s thrown down. He’s ready.”
Sherman is voluable by nature — and volatility comes with his job description.
“Bill Walsh said you want guys with high character who are great players and great people, but every once in a while, you have to line up and defend Jerry Rice,” Shaw said, “and the guy who does that has to be on the edge. That’s where Richard is.”
The problem on Sunday night was that the wide receiver he’d beaten was Crabtree. The two men plain don’t like each other, with the bad blood brimming over during a charity event hosted by Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals last summer. Sherman said his issues with Crabtree go back to something that happened during the offseason. “He said something personal face-to-face,” Sherman said. “He knows what he said, and he knows I’m going to be tough on him the rest of his career.”
On Monday, Crabtree declined to address the incident.