Now It Gets Real
It was Touch-Down—not Touchdown—Sunday, as the Seahawks and Broncos arrived in New Jersey to launch Super Bowl week. But if you thought Richard Sherman was going to step off the plane making headlines, think again. Lots about the next seven days will be crazy, but it's safe to say he won't be
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Well now, a Jersey City dateline, six days before the Super Bowl. There’s something I never thought I’d see. Or type. A Super Bowl in New Jersey. But the hype machine for Super Bowl XLVIII alighted in the Garden State Sunday night, so let’s go there, to the tamest interview station of them all.
Richard Sherman’s. Of course.
To all in the media hoping Richard Sherman does their job this week by spouting even a Triple-A version of the Erin Andrews diatribe, and to any of you hoping for another round of fun social debate on thuggery and race and sportsmanship, I bring you these gems from Sherman’s riser Sunday night at the Jersey City Westin, a week before Seattle-Denver just up the street in East Rutherford:
“We have a team full of competitors who want to go against the best team, the best offense. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
“It’s all going to come down to who plays the best football.”
“It really comes down to the execution.”
“It’s going to be a battle of wills.”
All right! Who went and stole Richard Sherman?!
What we heard Sunday night is probably what we’ll hear Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when Sherman meets more of the press. Lots more. Last night, I’d estimate about 75 reporters and camera people were around him, as you can see above. He was in a good mood, happy to be there and happy to be the Stanford Richard Sherman, not the Fifteen-Seconds-After-The-Game Richard Sherman. The one thing I can tell you about Sherman, from having gotten to know him a little bit in our conversations—me as editor in chief of The MMQB, he as a regular columnist—is he’s an optimistic person. A realist, but an optimist too. Someone asked him about being referred to as a thug last night, and instead of rolling his eyes and flashing anger, he said: “I think it did have some effect on opening up the channels of communication and conversation and dialogue. I think I had some impact on it, and I want to have a positive impact. I want people to understand that everybody should be judged by their character and who they are as a person and not by the color of their skin. That’s something we’ve worked to get past as a nation, as a country and we’re continuing to work on it. It’s healthy. Everything that happened, all the people who sent the messages, who tweeted what they tweeted, it ends up turning around to be a positive because it opens back up the discussion and people begin to get more educated. Anytime you get more knowledge, you’re more powerful as a person.” I’ve heard him talk like that several times, when the cameras aren’t around. I think as a person, that’s who he is.
But this week, I expect him to be the filtered Richard Sherman. Maybe with a message Tuesday, Media Day, in Newark, for the national TV audience, but nothing too incendiary.
“What’d you think?” I asked him after he finished his 20-minute session Sunday night.
“That was fun,” he said. “Enjoyed it.”
“That’s going to be the lightest one,” I said. “Wait ’til you see Tuesday. Three hundred people, maybe. Bigger setting. For a lot longer.”
“Oh man,’’ he said. “Three hundred? For 45 minutes? Okay. I’ve got something. Looking forward to it.”
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Some logistics …
The Broncos and Seahawks are staying 1.3 miles apart, just up from the Hudson River. Outside the Denver hotel is the better view: the icy Hudson, with the new World Trade Center glistening to the east. A beautiful sight.
But Denver has the more arduous practice road. They’ll have a 31-mile escorted trek to the Jets’ practice facility in the rolling hills of Florham Park, and will make the trip for the first time today for a light 2:55 p.m. practice. The Seahawks will practice for 75 minutes in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, at the Giants’ Quest Diagnostics Training Center across the parking lot from the site of the Super Bowl. Seattle is about eight miles away from the Meadowlands. Both teams will likely be practicing at the two teams’ indoor facilities for much of the week, seeing as the highs for the three big practice days—Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—are forecast to be 24, 29 and 38 degrees, respectively.
Denver coach John Fox did the smart thing, figuring he’ll have his team on buses for 70 to 90 minutes a day today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: He’s going to encourage his players to do homework on the trips. All players have team-issued tablets with scouting tape, and he’ll tell them that because so many of them haven’t played the Seahawks in a game that counts (Denver and Seattle have met once in the regular season in the last seven years, and not since 1983 in a playoff game; more on that below), they should use the time on the commutes to and from Florham Park wisely. In addition, Fox and FOX will get together Wednesday afternoon on the bus. He’ll do his weekly TV production meeting with the TV team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and the network’s production staff while driving back from the Jets’ facility after practice. Smart and efficient.