Richard Sherman Refuses to Go Quietly into the Night

Though knocked out of Super Bowl XLVIII by an ankle injury, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman stayed up until the wee hours celebrating the season that was and the future that awaits him

By
Robert Klemko
· More from Robert·
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John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Robert Klemko/The MMQB
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll greets Richard Sherman’s family at the team party. (Robert Klemko/The MMQB)

JERSEY CITY, N.J.— Centered in a family bubble in the corner of the room, not far from the all-night turkey buffet and the speaker pumping Kool and the Gang’s “Funky Stuff,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman greets a most-welcome intruder with a wide grin. Coach Pete Carroll emerges from a darkened hallway at the Westin Hotel at 1:30 a.m. to greet Sherman’s family, haloed around the All-Pro cornerback whose right foot is encased in a walking boot. Wedged into the same chair, his girlfriend sits at his side. His mother and father sit across from them, flanked by friends and family. Carroll splits the group and leans in, clasping Richard’s hand in his.

“After everything you’ve been through, you did it,” Carroll says, rubbing the blue beanie that sits atop Sherman’s head. “I’m so proud of you.”

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Though injured, Sherman was still able to take in the celebration. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

They share a few quiet words, and then Carroll is off to rejoin the party raging in rooms next door and above. The Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII with perhaps the greatest high-stakes defensive performance in modern football history. Peyton Manning was pressured, sacked, intercepted and felled, and now it’s time to savor the 43-8 victory and utter domination. Somebody hands Sherman a drink, but he nurses it for so long that another arrives before he’s done. Now double-fisting Hennessy on ice, all he wants to do is talk football.

“All we did was play situational football,” Sherman says. “We knew what route concepts they liked on different downs, so we jumped all the routes. Then we figured out the hand signals for a few of the route audibles in the first half.”

He demonstrates the signs Manning used for various routes, and says he and his teammates were calling out plays throughout the game and getting them right. “Me, Earl [Thomas], Kam [Chancellor]… we’re not just three All-Pro players. We’re three All-Pro minds,” Sherman says. “Now, if Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could’ve been exposed.”

The room Sherman looks out upon is painted in Seahawks green and blue, as if the rest of the color wheel has been suspended for one night in Jersey City. Green and blue stage lights dance on the walls. A nearby table is stocked with dozens of chocolate cupcakes topped with grey icing and green and blue skittles, most of which go untouched. Sherman’s mother, Beverly, wears tightly coiled bangs, neon green rain boots (which she found at an Inglewood Marshalls) and a blue authentic Richard Sherman No. 25 jersey with MOM stitched across the left collarbone. She had wailed, “My baby!” upon seeing him at MetLife, but is relatively quiet at the party, smiling as she watches her baby talk with his dad. His father, Kevin, is draped in a black and blue leather jacket, custom-made when Richard was a rookie to say SHERMAN #25 on the right breast and DAD on the left. He leans in and says in a deep, raspy voice: “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now. No more football.”

“The NFC Championship was the Super Bowl,” Sherman says. “The 49ers were the second-best team in the NFL.”

His son laughs, but he doesn’t really know either. A 25-year-old from Compton, a Stanford grad and the son of garbage man, Richard Sherman has become a sudden pop-culture icon, with dozens of interview requests pending and several marketing deals already in negotiation; it is the result of three seasons of stellar play and one volcanic explosion on live television following the NFC title game. At the heart of it all lies football, which is why tonight is so sobering for the fifth-round pick who should be running around and partying on top of the world. He was sure he’d snapped his ankle in the second half. He heard a pop, and that’s why he stayed on the ground for several minutes, which felt like eternity to Seahawks fans. An X-ray showed no break, and it’s believed to be nothing more serious than a high-ankle sprain, pending the results of an MRI.

Fitted with a walking boot during the final minutes of the blowout, Sherman gingerly made his way to the field celebration, then to the press conference podium and back through the tunnel toward the locker room, whereupon Marshawn Lynch saw his crutches and guffawed, “What the f—?” through a black face-warmer that the running back worn under a red “Beast Mode” hoodie. Sherman smirked and answered simply, “I’m not Beast Mode.”

Back in the locker room, Sherman returned from the showers with the help of crutches while teammates devoured BBQ and mac and cheese. His older brother, Branton, picked three pieces of blue and green confetti out of Sherman’s dreadlocks before he got onto a cart that took him to the car that would transport him to the party, 20 minutes southeast of East Rutherford at the team hotel. After Sherman left the stadium, one New Jersey State Trooper in his dress blues said to another, “That broken ankle might keep him out of trouble tonight.”

“Yea,” the other replied.

Sherman might be trouble, but not the kind of trouble they were talking about. He’s trouble for elite quarterbacks. Trouble for PR guys. Trouble for those who prefer athletes to always be gracious and obedient. Encircled in that bubble at 2 a.m., the truth about the 2013 season spills out like molten rock, interrupted only when hotel staff or the family and friends of teammates ask him for autographs.

* He finds Media Day obnoxious, and wonders why the NFL credentialed so many people to cover Super Bowl week.

* He hates to admit it, but says “the NFC Championship was the Super Bowl. The 49ers were the second-best team in the NFL.”

Robert Klemko/The MMQB
Sherman and Marshawn Lynch at the team hotel after the game, with no curfew early Monday morning. (Robert Klemko/The MMQB)

* At the beginning of the week Carroll imposed a 1 a.m. curfew, but asked his leaders if it was a good idea; they suggested one night off at the beginning of the week. They got last Monday. “That takes humility on his part,” Sherman says.

* He’s not sure if he’d have been able to play in two weeks if he had to. After first injuring his ankle earlier in the game, he says the coaches wanted him out there despite his diminished ability to serve as a deterrent to Peyton Manning. “I looked sloppy out there,” he says. “They only kept me out there by reputation.”

* And he’s not just being coy when he says he had only good intentions when he tried to shake 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s hand after the game-clinching deflection and interception in the NFC title game. “I know if I went up to Larry Fitzgerald in that situation,” Sherman says, “he’d have shaken my hand. It’s about respect.”

It’s as if the light never goes off with Sherman; it just fades in and out, but mostly in. By 3:10 a.m., his parents have hugged him goodbye and he remains in the same seat he took up two hours ago, next to the same woman. The room has thinned out and Sherman fills the void with his growing excitement. The pain, the booze, a belly full of turkey—somehow it all makes him think faster. He’s on a roll now, speaking clearer than he did at the podium four hours ago.

An assistant coach, Marquand Manuel, comes over and greets Sherman with a smile, congratulating him. Almost immediately they start speaking another language. Digs, crossers and seams are the new patois. They laugh upon rediscovering the moment in XLVIII when they knew they were “playing chess, not checkers,” as Sherman tells it.

“A good offense that has really studied film and really done its due diligence will see plays that other teams have had success with and install them as a surprise,” Sherman says. “Brandon Browner got beat in Arizona on posts from two outside receivers, and flats from the slot receivers. And they were the only team that ran it. Kam was the safety and he tried to undercut the post and they just banged it in there. Denver had never run it, and they put it in because of Arizona. That’s chess.”

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Sherman on Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas. (Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

By 3:45 a.m., only friends remain. Bedtime nears. Sherman has passed off one glass of Hennessy to his girlfriend, Ashley,and another rests in his hand, the ice nearly melted. An adult couple in Seahawks jerseys introduce themselves, wanting to congratulate Sherman. The man has a question: “My daughter is considering Stanford. The town seems uptight. What’s it like?” Sherman’s answer is thoughtful and lengthy. “Palo Alto is very different from campus. Palo Alto is for older people,” he says, in part. “Stanford will allow her to meet some of the most intellectually stimulating people in the world. Her classmates will be people like the CEO of Instagram.”

Sherman’s father, Kevin, comes from a much different background. Despite his son’s riches—and Richard’s contract will only get bigger from here—the elder Sherman still wakes up for his early-morning trash route to meet the personal challenge of making his pension. It was Kevin Sherman who came to mind when Richard found himself in Carroll’s office after that infamous NFC title game rant, being asked in a fatherly way, “What were you thinking? Let’s figure out what you want to gain here, so I can help you get it. I want them to know the Richard who leads my team, who does all the community service…”

It was virtually the same chat Sherman had with Carroll in October 2012, after the second-year corner intercepted Tom Brady in a victory and then mocked the Patriots’ quarterback in person and on Twitter after the game. Carroll asked then, in the same manner, “What are you trying to do?”

Sherman’s response: “I want to be All-Pro. I want to be seen as the best, right now, and to do that I have to be loud.”

At 4:08 a.m., Sherman is on his feet. The celebration continues to roar upstairs, and Sherman wants to see at least a portion of the concert. Ashley helps him up, hands him his crutches and holds his drink. He gets to the elevator just as Lynch and a half dozen of his friends pour in, stumbling like children run amok. Lynch is still stiff and cool, still wrapped in the same face-warmer, hoodie up. Lynch has been telling teammates all season he’ll retire if they win the Super Bowl. Sherman doesn’t believe him. In the lobby upstairs, they put their heads together and Lynch whispers something inaudible through the mask. Sherman laughs and screams, “You reneged!” Fans at the concert see Sherman and begin sloppily chanting, “L-O-B! L-O-B!” He leaves Lynch, sticks his crutches under his arms and disappears into the crowd. The night is not over yet.

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415 comments
Deserthocky
Deserthocky

I think what irritates most is that Sherman does talk a 'big game' though it appears he does so after he plays a 'big game'.  So many others talk big before they play; Brady, Welker for example...Sherman was nothing but gracious during SB week and gave Manning and his receivers plenty of kudos.  It was during the game he talked smack to Welker, well because Welker made a comment before the game he couldn't live up to; where's the harsh talk towards Welker?  After the SB Sherman gave Manning huge compliment by claiming he's the classiest man in the NFL.  I understand people want him to fail, but seriously, 2 time All-Pro, SB Trophy, led the league in INT's and so many still claim he's not that good - now that's comedy.

derekleewhite
derekleewhite

Referees in our pockets hahahaha if it wasn't for the refs trying to give the broncos pitty thomas would of been flagged for offensive pass interference ur just mad that the big game came all the hype and denver plays worst game of the year and seattle played their best salty!

ereygadas
ereygadas

It was the best super Bowl for me.  Because Shermen got hurt.That was my Super Bowl Ring for me and the Seahawks were lucky because the referees were on their pockets

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Agreed with Sherman that the SuperBowl was a joke. Top 5 teams this season in the NFL were all in the NFC.

DeeBo
DeeBo

"It’s as if the light never goes off with Sherman; it just fades in and out, but mostly in."  Sounds like he has ADHD.  Maybe he should try some Adderall.

Jim22
Jim22

Funny how he says this now !!  Wonder what he'd be saying if they lost ???  He probably would be nowhere to be found keeping his stupid comments to himself or saying the Broncos cheated somehow!!

kevinm1
kevinm1

This guys focus is uncanny. I heard he figured out the Broncos routes. So much focus...almost as if he were on some crazy focus giving pill.

Buck2185
Buck2185

Sherman refuses to go anywhere quietly. I think Pete has upped Richard's Adderall dose to keep it that way. The more the loudmouthed punk talks, the more publicity they get... 

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

Arizona beat the Poohawks, and the 49ers couldn't. I'd hardly call that the 'real' Super Bowl...

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

Except Denver would probably have beaten The 49ers, and their so-so secondary. It's all about matchups, isn't it Richard??

dendu
dendu

Two of my preconceptions confirmed by this piece.  First, every time Sherman opens his mouth, he says something I like (reading the hand signs) followed by something I don't ("we're All-Pro minds").  


Second, every time a New Jersey State Trooper opens his mouth, out spews a mouthful of tough-guy, heavily tinged with racism.

Michael88
Michael88

The more I read about this guy the more I like him. So many people want to call him classless while displaying no class in their own comments. Those very same people wanted to see his team lose badly so they could blame Sherman for it all...but guess what Seattle went out there and dominated the most prolific offense in NFL HISTORY. I could only hope my Redskins one day reach such greatness.

Mark112
Mark112

Any other player would have walked off the field in his own power, but not Rhodes Scholar Sherbert. Enjoy your fifteen minutes; the expiration date is rapidly approaching.

LamarDavis
LamarDavis

I don't believe this for a second.  I guess that's why Peyton completed 33 passes?  Seattle physically dominated the Broncos.  The pass rush got Peyton a little "happy feet" and he made check downs or had poor throws.  I like Sherman, but he's full of it on this one.  

TonyHenderson
TonyHenderson

@ereygadas Conspiracy theorists are great aren't they? I guess Manning threw the game on purpose? As far as Sherman getting hurt. Yep, he hurt his leg. He probably hurt his back hoisting the Lombardi Trophy too. He will also hurt his back again when he signs his contract extension in Seattle after next season too. Saying his getting hurt was your SB ring says that you are an insufferable, obnoxious, pathetic little troll. He's doing something with his life, please feel free to do something with yours instead of wishing harm on others. BTW, your mom just called you upstairs for dinner. I'm sure you still wear a bib and sit at the kids table.

MitchellEcland
MitchellEcland

@DeeBo  

Yeah, yeah. And the moon landing was faked, and Obama is a Kenyan, and the government is responsible for 911,vaccines cause autism etc. etc. Got it. 

Buck2185
Buck2185

@DeeBo Try Adderall? Pete gives it to him three times daily.....

JetMoore
JetMoore

@Jim22  Kind of like how Kaepernick wouldn't shut up AFTER he lost.  Saying that Denver would win for sure, that Sherman was afraid of 49ers receivers despite Kaep only throwing it in Sherm's direction twice all game, or how he said Seattle's nickel defense was "vulnerable" and Manning would exploit it.  Yeah right, stick to bicep kissing and choking in big games and leave the analysis for people who actually know what they are talking about.  

MitchellEcland
MitchellEcland

@Jim22  

He couldn't very well  say it BEFORE the Superbowl was actually played now could he? Geeze, what a moron you are. Do you listen to yourself?

jerrydon
jerrydon

@Joebuckster I pretty sure the 49ers SWEPT Arizona!? Yep they did! and we all know that the Hawks play San Fran way tougher!

jerrydon
jerrydon

@Joebuckster  The Den offensive line would not be able to protect Peyton from the Niner front 7!

el80ne
el80ne

@Joebuckster Doubtful. Niners offense would have steamrolled Denver D. Matchups remember?

mdmiller99
mdmiller99

@dendu  hey! you deal with the human garbage he deals with and see how sunny your attitude is tough guy. Who the hell are you to judge?


You know next to nothing about that Trooper or what he deals with daily.


Grow up, and respect a man doing a tough job.

AllThingsConsidered
AllThingsConsidered

@Michael88  Because some posters show no class, then Sherman has class? Because Seattle dominated the great Broncos offense then Sherman has class? What does any of this has to do with Sherman's character? Sherman has shown that he has no class. Why would you try to deny that just because it is an outstanding player? I don't think people who thrash Sherman for his behavior deny that he is a great corner.

JaredRide
JaredRide

@LamarDavis  All of DEN's yards and completions were done in GARBAGE TIME..   DEN had 11 Yards of TOTAL offense vs like 143 Yds for SEA to start the 2nd qtr.       DEN was HORRIBLE in absolutely every aspect..   


1.   SEA

2.   SF

3.   CAR

4.   NO

5.  NE  (4 maybe if they are healthy)


NFC is a totally different league than the AFC.    SEA (or SF) would have done that to essentially ANY AFC team.

JetMoore
JetMoore

@jerrydon @Joebuckster  It's debatable that the only reason Seattle was able to put constant pressure on Manning was because he was holding on to the ball longer than he normally does.  Why is that?  The coverage on the Denver receivers was so tight that he didn't have a man open.  But I have to imagine the 49ers still would've won.

mdmiller99
mdmiller99

@el80ne @Joebuckster  The niners MAY have been capable of beating the Broncos. No disrespect intended but the Niner DB's aren't as good. That was a big deal in this game. That and the fact that the SF QB seems to be having issue in tight games makes me wonder. Either way SF is 2nd best team over the course of the year.

mdmiller99
mdmiller99

@AllThingsConsidered @Michael88  NO he has not. He has shown he WILL however stand up for him self and his team mates. Just because you don't like him doesn't mean he has no class. He has plenty, but you must not like it when a confident person lets you know what he's going to do, and goes and does it. OR  even better tells you all about it as he IS doing it. 


Whiner.

Andrew the Great!
Andrew the Great!

@AllThingsConsidered @Michael88  No literate person could think this statement ("So many people want to call him classless while displaying no class in their own comments") means this ("Because some posters show no class, then Sherman has class?").  You, ATC, inferred the "because" when none was implied.


At no point did Michael88 say or even imply that Sherman has class BECAUSE some posters don't have class.  Not even close.  In fact, Michael88 never even stated that HE thinks Sherman has class, only that the more he reads about him the more he likes him.

el80ne
el80ne

@AllThingsConsidered @Michael88 What you're revealing is that you don't put a whole lot of thought behind your hater claims. Sherman reveals class 99% of the time by the way he conducts himself. If you're going to judge a person from such a minor sliver without considering the context within the totality of his life, you're just revealing you're pretty lacking in class yourself. Maybe if you strived for classiness you could serve as a better example because there would actually be credibility behind your criticisms? Just a suggestion.

dreamscape289
dreamscape289

he took the time, on the night he won the Super Bowl, to talk to some people who were considering sending their child to stanford. He gave them meaningful advice in a time when he could have blown them off. That is class.. That is taking a moment from your own life and giving it to someone else. Yes, Sherman is loud, yes, he brags, and he backs it up. give the man his due. he's human, just like the rest of us.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@JaredRide @LamarDavis  Yeah, way to ignore the fact that Denver's defense was decimated as well (best pass rusher in the league, their best corner, best safety, 3/4 of the 'D' line, etc, etc). NE was dominated by Denver and they're 5th. 


Right, idiot...

JetMoore
JetMoore

@fuamiki @jerrydon @Joebuckster  ...Seattle was the more penalized team, quit crying conspiracy, and get over yourselves.  And stop acting as if San Francisco played the clear better game...San Fran and Seattle BOTH finished with the same amount of yards and first downs.  The real difference, Seattle had one turnover, San Francisco had three.  Seattle's was on the first play of the game, San Francisco had three on the 49ers FINAL THREE DRIVES!  No team that turns the ball over THAT much when the game is on the line deserves to win.  So have fun whining for the next several months because I can only assume it feels better than losing with dignity.

mdmiller99
mdmiller99

@JetMoore @jerrydon @Joebuckster  I feel this is the difference in the projected 49r game as well if I understand what you are saying.


Think 9rs prob would have won as well, but not as big, perhaps much closer.

mdmiller99
mdmiller99

@Joebuckster @JaredRide @LamarDavis  


Fact one: Denver was missing some pretty decent players on D.


Fact Two: Denvers D had nothing to do with their loss. In Fact they played decent till the 4th or so (from a Hawks fan)


Fact Three: Not any of the content of Fact's 1 or 2 would make a difference. Seahawks D wasn't going to allow it. Peypey and the orange posse of lightweight AFCers found out the hard way Defense is still king on the gridiron when played at the elite level.


Would. Not. Have. Mattered. And everyone knows it. So quit whining and get better as a team.

JetMoore
JetMoore

@Joebuckster @JaredRide @LamarDavis  Not that your team wasn't injured (I think you're exaggerating your team's injuries, but they were injuries), but that wouldn't only explain why they were dominated on one phase of the game.  Denver's offense and return coverage team was also completely obliterated.  Mostly the offense!  And how team's respond to injuries is typically the X factor behind championship teams.  Seattle doesn't pay it's QB a billion dollars (exaggeration) therefore Seattle had depth at nearly every position.  

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