10 Things I Learned After America Learned About Me

By
Richard Sherman
· More from Richard·
Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB (2)
Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB (2)
Robert Beck/SI/The MMQB
Crabtree and Sherman in the NFC title game, just moments before Sherman gave Colin Kaepernick the choke sign, for which he was fined. (Robert Beck/SI/The MMQB)

1. No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is. That’s not mine. It belongs to Irvin Himmel. Somebody tweeted it at me after the NFC Championship Game. If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this: Don’t attack anybody. I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.

2. This stage is bigger than I thought it was. How much does America love football? My one little rant made it onto CNBC and CNN. I heard my name on The View. I got tweets in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Czech and Arabic. People identify with the struggle and the battle of a football game.

3. When to look away. I have always had a good sense of this, but there came a point in the aftermath of the NFC Championship game when I had to cut off the attention. The incident was so polarizing that you had to pick a side. You either hated it or you loved it. I looked at Twitter and I saw two guys having a conversation about me in Spanish; I was going to Google translate it, but I just decided to let it go.

4. I’m lucky to have detractors. You have to take a step back and understand that you’re playing a game and the people who say disparaging things online and on television are trying to take you off that game. I’ve had my fair share of controversial moments and backlash and critics, and I’ve learned not to take it personally. That’s the only way you can look at it. You have to accept it and not have a negative attitude. I appreciate them because they’re so passionate as fans.

5. It’s not all black and white. Race played a major part in how my behavior was received, but I think it went beyond that. Would the reaction have been the same if I was clean-cut, without the dreadlocks? Maybe if I looked more acceptable in conservative circles, my rant would have been understood as passion. These prejudices still play a factor in our views because it’s human nature to quickly stereotype and label someone. We all have that.

“You’re anonymous until you put yourself out there or show up in a big game. I did both … maybe if I looked more acceptable in conservative circles, my rant would have been understood as passion.”

6. The NFL always wins. Every time a game ends on a controversial call or somebody loses it on camera, it’s free advertising for the NFL. It’s not just my name being talked about on all the shows; it’s the NFL’s logo on all the shows. That means more eyes on the Super Bowl, more clicks for their websites, and potentially more sales of my jersey, for which I don’t see a kickback. Even when they’re taking money out of my pockets with fines, the league is constantly winning.

7. Anonymity isn’t for me. Last season I went to the Super Bowl in New Orleans by myself, took a video crew to Bourbon Street and asked fans who they thought was the best lockdown corner in the game: Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis. Most of these football fans, who were dedicated enough to go to the Super Bowl, didn’t even know who I was. That’s unique to our sport—the helmets shield our identities. Look at Antrel Rolle, who had one of the best seasons in the NFL for a safety, and he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl until he became an alternate. There’s Alterraun Verner and Aqib Talib, who could really make a case to be first team All-Pro, but weren’t considered because they’re not the loudest players. You’re anonymous until you put yourself out there or show up in a big game. I did both.

8. The violence takes a toll. When you play the game, you can’t go very long without seeing a career or a season end on one play. Running in to each other at full speed is not what God intended for our bodies. Everybody knows the NFL stands for Not For Long, so it plays into how you play and how you behave. We each handle it in our own way. You’ve got to appreciate every moment and treat it like it’s your last. You stay locked-in mentally. When you’re watching that from the outside, sometimes you’re going to see some things you’re not always going to agree with.

Rod Mar for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Rod Mar for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

9. Pete Carroll is a rock. But I already knew that. After the NFC title game, he sat me down and we talked about the things I could’ve handled better, and he opened my eyes. Then we went about the week before Super Bowl week as if it were any other game week. We didn’t paint the Super Bowl logo on the practice field or anything like that. We stuck with the theme of the program: Every game is a championship opportunity. We’ve been treating it like that for 22 games. He’s been preparing us for this moment so that we wouldn’t even notice we were playing in the Super Bowl.

10. If I could turn back the clock … Maybe I deserved a fine under today’s rules, but back when football was raw and unsanitized, the same things they fined guys for now were the aspects of the game that people loved. The NFL once allowed players to live in the moment and be entertainers. I may have been wrong in my gestures, but if I had to do it all again, I’d probably do some of the same things. It was a big moment, and it was how I felt at the time.

 

Richard Sherman has written a regular column for The MMQB since July. His entire work can be viewed here, and his column the morning after the NFC title game—‘To Those Who Would Call Me a Thug or Worse …’—can be viewed here. For his take on why Super Bowl XLVIII shouldn’t be played in New Jersey, click the image below.

sherman-story-tease

 
 

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More from The MMQB
1162 comments
SamiHanson
SamiHanson

Sherms, you do not need to apologize for anything. If people look at that stats, they would down right know that you ARE the best corner in the league. You are someone that puts everything out there: on and off the field, and that is something that I CAN appreciate while most people can't. We live in a world full of masks and fakers; it is a breath of fresh air to see someone be excited and express raw emotion. You rock Sherms. Sending love from Kansas!

sportsfan65
sportsfan65

You have got to be kidding me. This idiot has a communications degree from Stanford?  This idiot - Richard Sherman - has zero communication skills. Shame on Stanford.  If a non-athlete student turned this in as a high school paper he/she would be lucky to get a C-. Shame on all universities for pushing through these guys who can barely read and write and in many cases give them good grades based solely on their athletic ability.  Sorry Sherman you're a thug.  But then again you are better at life than us mere mortals.

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

Love the #1.  Way to go Sherman.  And Congratulations. 

TonyDickey
TonyDickey

It's not the mistakes you make, it is about how you react. Sherman is learning from his mistakes. 

Juhurma
Juhurma

Richard,

You've got class! 

Why has no one compared what you did in the Atlanta playoff game a year ago when the WR got separation from you, made the catch for basically the game-winning TD against the Hawks, with your tipping the ball away from Crabtree (would have intercepted it yourself if Crab had not shoved you hard in the back) and Malcolm grabbing it for the interception? You applauded and congratulated the Atlanta WR with your same iconic smile that you had when you congratulated Crabtree on a game well-played, and basically defended for a Seahawk win. People have fickle memories! You proved in Atlanta that you can take it as well as give it! You earned the right to congratulate Crabtree for a good game - it is consistent with what you have done repeatedly whether you made the good play or the player from the other team made the good play.

FloresHawk12
FloresHawk12

Why do people hate when all he is doing is being real. People just can't accept that Sherman is able to back up the talk he dishes out. I mean come on, you wouldn't do the same if you were him? Really think about it..  

JReeves
JReeves

I love that heart of yours, and I definitely agree that you're the best cornerback in the league.  While it's wonderful to see someone like you rise from harsh grounds (something I'm familiar with), I can't help but think that so much is drowned out by not just loudness (as the loudness and passion I can get behind) but for the lack of a better word, classlessness.  Disadvantage kids see you on TV and they want to be just like you, thinking they too can be the best!  Unfortunately the first (and often the only) thing they imitate is the trash talk and taunting behaviors, which doesn't take them anywhere in life.  We don't all have the making to be one of the best football players in the NFL, but we all can work our butt off and make something out of ourselves as you did.  I wish kids would want to be just like RSherman and get good grades, go to college, give back, be passionate, believe in themselves, work well with teammates... instead of proudly wearing a shirt that says 'Don't you ever talk about me' after an interview that no one should be proud of.  The power in how you carry yourself can shine as bright as that awesome smile on your face, I beg you to use it wisely.


Congratulations on the Super Bowl win, you and your team deserves it.

CharlieQuante
CharlieQuante

Richard, thank you for staying focused on the goal. Great job.  Everyone is a leader. Everyone is a follower.  It's important to remember when to assume each role.

maxdotcom13
maxdotcom13

Richard Sherman is the man. His confidence isn't phony, or rehearsed. He is passionate and reasonable. You might not like him, but ALL champions have a polarizing effect.

stephanygator
stephanygator

I love this man.  I don't think I had a dog in the fight.... until all of this came out. Bringing light to the use of the word "thug."  Breaking stereotypes with his dedication to his education and reaching out to young people wanting to follow in his foot steps.  Becoming one of the greatest players to give back before he even starts making the real money.  This is the man I want my future kids to look up to...

12ing_IT_UP
12ing_IT_UP

Just got done reading a bunch of these comments, but I just wanted to ask....When did the word mediocre become a bad word??  I don't know why this thing blew up so much.  Everyone has known that Sherm likes to talk sh#t!!  It's part of the game.  The choking thing was bad form, but who cares.  We are about to see what might be one of the greatest Super Bowls ever and everyone is hung up on this one guy.  I say chill out and enjoy the game! 

PurpleCity52
PurpleCity52

Kappernick mocked Cam Newton when the miners won, Sherman did the choke when the hawks won.. Bitter with the sweet, Colin you can't say a word because of what you did in Carolina..

MaryBradley
MaryBradley

Re #6, way to implement the language of the oppressor to call out the NFL as the thugs they are! Thanks for this moment! Thanks for speaking truth to power! Thanks for keeping it real! Have a great game Sunday and keep making waves!

msbrig
msbrig

49ers fan here. Was a little hesitant about reading your article, but I'm glad I did. I got a different point of view of you, one that I can respect. With all the negative publicity received, I'm glad you came out a better man. I wish you good success in your career.

YouMadHaters
YouMadHaters

You'd all love him if he played for your team!!! Don't hate cuz your squad isn't playing in the big game!!! Till someone shuts you up, keep the mouth running Sherm!!! Thanks for the cleats you bought my sons team, they're still acting like they're famous cuz they met you!!! Seattle loves you brotha!!! Go Hawks!!! Bring it home!!!

GregRandol
GregRandol


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Walter72
Walter72

I absolutely hate how sanitized and politically correct football has become. It should be smashmouth and in your face. There should be a barbarian quality about it, like there was back in the day. By no means should there be any room for well-behaved gentlemen. It's not tennis. And we don't live in England. Take it for what it is -- giant musclebound morons running into each other at full speed. Have we been completely neutered as a society? Robert Goodell has been, for sure. A eunuch through and through. How are any of the players supposed to respect a yuppy businessman? Stop tucking in your junk and grow a pair. He should be forced to prove his manhood in some way, before he can be commissioner-- either through violence or an act of bravery, like binge drinking. 

GoodDoctorDre
GoodDoctorDre

Broncos all the way, down with the Pedhawks!

vegatron
vegatron

Sherman, I hope you actually learned the lesson you say you have learned; that would go far in making a lot more people (myself included) respect you both as a player and as a person. 

c-hawk
c-hawk

Big deal... What a lot of nonsense. It was a moment... A *nothing*. Get over it and move on. And by the way, this is from a "conservative circle". I like Richard a lot. Go Sherman! Go Hawks!

ritach
ritach

Just read that Sherman, was caught taking Adderall in Dec. 2012. He had a dirty drug screen, but got off on a technical issue.  So, he is a speed freak.  That would explain his crazy rants and inability to edit himself or calm down.  Junkie.

sharkbro62
sharkbro62

Poor Colin Kapernick who taunted Cam Newton in Carolina. Poor Michael Crabtree who shoved Sherman's face away from him when Sherman tried to congratulate him for playing a "great game...great game". No, the only poor sport here is Richard Sherman. Sherman never said that criticism against him was racist, he said that calling a black man that doesn't behave the way society expects him to a "thug" is a racist term. Please have some idea of what you are talking about before you open your mouth. It's better for people to think you are an idiot than to open your mouth and prove it.

Sherman_is_a_douchebag
Sherman_is_a_douchebag

Sherman saw the avalanche of criticism and, for an instant, actually realized that he'd been self-centered and stupid.  So HE played the race card, saying that calling him a "thug" was as good as saying the N-word.  What that classless statement showed was that his insight had only lasted for an instant and that he was back to being an idiot and poison for his team.  I hope that a Denver linebacker gets the chance to lay a colossal hit on Sherman and send them dreadlocks flying.

Denver 28  ---  Seattle 21 

Wilforkistheman
Wilforkistheman

Racism is involved in people's responses to this classless egotistical guy? He made a choking gesture to the qb Kapernick, he badmouthed Crabtree and was swaggering about "me me me" nothing about his team or even the player that actually caught the interception after his great play, smith. How is this racist that I think it is classless and egotistical?

alstonk
alstonk

I kinda want to see Richard Sherman interview Michael Grimm to see why people are giggling but not threatened by him threatening to kill a reporter.  Forward all tentative interviews with Richard Sherman -explaining that he shouldn't be labeled a thug- to Michael Grimm.

OneLuv
OneLuv

@sportsfan65: I personally detested the controversial gesture made by Richard Sherman at the NFC championship game towards Michael Crabtree, but reading your comment truly highlights what is painfully wrong with our society. Rather than make an intelligible comment/observation, you go on the same route of tearing somebody else down. What makes you better? You are as guilty as the original culprit, if not more. At-least he is man enough to accept his mistake. Your comment is so full of misdirected vile and hatred, dare I say it’s a typical racist stereotyping at best. We are not here to grade Sherman's grammar, but to make reasonable comments on his self directed op-ed, but you chose to go off on his writing skills, question his education and resort to name calling. Going by your so called standards of proper communication skill, your first sentence in your hate laced comment (“You have got to be kidding me”) is grammatically incorrect and so are several other sentences in your hateful comments. You should know this if you are truly better educated as you seem to portray. But then again Sherman’s write-up is not an English assignment or about grammatical correctness, but rather it is a sincere observation from someone who made mistakes and was man enough to accept these mistakes. You truly need help and lessons on racial sensitivity because you seem full of hate and racial bias by virtue of your commentary. You illuminate what is wrong with our society. May God help you!

AnthonyChavez
AnthonyChavez

@CharlieQuante Bart Starr didn't.  Jim Plunkett didn't.  Joe Montana didn't.  Len Dawson didn't.  John Unitas didn't.  Dave Casper didn't.  The list goes on and on.....Richard Sherman will get the opposite of what he craves...he wants to be known...well, be careful what you pray for--- you never know how you're going to get it.

soljerjack
soljerjack

@msbrig  That was one classy post... from a Seahawks fan. Good luck to you guys next season as well.

vegatron
vegatron

@c-hawk I'm from a conservative circle and I don't like the dude. Part of me wants to like him; he's a great player who is intelligent and seems to be a good guy off the field for the most part, but he's done this same crap over and over again, and then acts like its no big deal and tries to defend himself. He was wrong before and he's wrong again. Sorry, I find it hard to respect the guy because of his lack of class on the field. 

PaulRandall
PaulRandall

@ritach Or he is legitimately diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. If you are a speed freak and have the money Adderall would not be your drug of choice. If you are legitimately worried about athletes taking Adderall then maybe you  might want to focus on high school sports where the drug is rampant and it seems nobody gives a hoot.

soljerjack
soljerjack

@sharkbro62  Amen, brother!  But, remember ignorance is blissfully comfortable, so expect more of the same, unfortunately.


GoodDoctorDre
GoodDoctorDre

@sharkbro62 If you think Sherman was being even 1% genuine with the handshake then you need to get your head checked. Thug.

vegatron
vegatron

@sharkbro62 Isn't that exactly what Sherman did? You know, the whole open your mouth part?

vegatron
vegatron

@c-hawk he seems to have a lot of these "moments"; if this had been a first time, then yeah I see where letting him off because it was simply "a moment" makes sense but "come on man"!

vegatron
vegatron

@NealO'Neal Great come back man! Really convinced me there... never heard any of those "insults" (if you can even call them that!) before.

vegatron
vegatron

@Kenny2Thorough There's a difference between challenging opponents and being an absolute jerk. Sherman's ability as a player is unquestioned; I think he's easily the best corner in the league right now. His size, speed, and ability are, right now, second to none and it will probably remain that way for a while. That being said, it does not lend to being able to suddenly act like a totally jerk. I understand trash talking is part of the game; that's fine, everyone does it. But there is a line and Sherman's crossed it quite a few times; this was not the first. May have been the biggest, but was not the first.

Kenny2Thorough
Kenny2Thorough

@vegatron@c-hawk Is it necessarily bad for Sherman to 'challenge' his opponents. Cornerbacks may second guess themselves if they're too timid. You can't be Mother Teresa out there.

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