NEWARK, N.J. -- Richard Sherman spoke of regrets, race, diversity, stereotypes and setting an example for the nation’s youth.
You know, the sort of issues every football player ponders leading up to the biggest game of his life.
The last 10 days have shown that Sherman is anything but your typical NFL player. An amusing-yet-controversial postgame tirade directed toward San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship Game has thrust the Seattle cornerback into the national spotlight.
The buildup to Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seahawks and Denver Broncos provides him no cover.
Not that he wants it. Asked if he knew his comments would spark this spirited debate and make him a household name, Sherman exhibits no false modesty.
“I had a good idea,” he said.
Sherman is not consumed by the firestorm that ensued after he declared himself the best corner in the game while stressing Crabtree was nothing more than a mediocre receiver. He refuses to let others define him.
No, what Sherman has done is calmly articulate his stance while pointing out the assumptions that led critics to label him a thug. He wonders if his comments would have taken on a different tone if he was clean cut and didn’t have dreadlocks.
His questions can’t be dismissed. Why?
Hours after Sherman made national headlines, New England coach Bill Belichick impugned the integrity of Wes Welker by saying the Denver receiver purposely knocked one of the Patriots out of the AFC Championship Game with a dirty hit. The NFL ruled later the hit was legal.
It can be argued Belichick’s comments were much more calculated and inflammatory than Sherman’s emotional rant seconds after the game. Compare who has received the most criticism and it’s not even close.
At Tuesday’s media day, Sherman conceded he should have conducted himself differently.
“You never want to talk down to a man and build yourself up,” Sherman said. “I regretted that, and I regretted taking the attention away from my teammates. That’s the one thing I wish I could do again.”
That’s not a problem this week. He has consistently gone out of his way to praise teammates. He calls Denver’s Demaryius Thomas one of the league’s top five receivers and considers him a friend.
And no, he has not been warned by Seattle coach Pete Carroll or other Seahawks officials to watch what he says.
“You can’t say crazy stuff on a regular basis,” Sherman said. “I don’t think being at the Super Bowl makes it any different. It will just be a huge stage you made a mistake on instead of a smaller stage.
“But in the NFL, with the social media and everything, all the technology, anytime you say anything it’s going to spread quick.”
The initial response to Sherman’s rant was so unrelenting that at one point he said thug had become the socially acceptable alternative to calling someone the N-word. That also spread quickly on social media, with some decrying him and others trying to compare him to Muhammad Ali.
Sherman will tell you he’s no Ali. “The ridicule he [Ali] went through, the serious racial degradation and stigmas he had to fight, the stereotypes he had to fight against,” don’t compare to the uncomplimentary tweets that have flown at Sherman. But it has sparked discussion.
“I think it did have some effect on opening up the channels of communication and conversation and dialogue,” Sherman said. “I think I had some impact on it, and I want to have a positive impact.
“I think anytime you get more knowledge you’re more powerful as a person.”
Sherman is opinionated but not generally bombastic. Those who know him best say he’s not a narcissist. He wants the public to know he’s not an angry person. He knows kids need positive role models.
So, what would Sherman tell a youngster who behaved the way he did after the win over the 49ers?
“You would tell them that not everybody can do that and understand it’s in the passion of the moment, that not every player is like that,” Sherman said.
“If kids got involved in sports and played it at the highest level, then they would understand the competitiveness of sports and take their path either way, whether they want to be the aggressive guy who talks trash or be the humble, quiet Russell Wilsons of the world, the Earl Thomas of the world, those who play the game at an incredibly high level and don’t have much to say about it. Even Marshawn Lynch, who plays really hard and fierce and competitive and gets fined for not talking about it.
“If you really want to explain,” Sherman continued, “you explain there are so many different personalities in the game and you can pick any one of them to pattern your game after.”
And that is Tuesday in the life of Richard Sherman at the Super Bowl.
What does the rest of the week hold?
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Players bracing for cold Super Bowl So much for all of the hand-wringing about a snowed-in Super Bowl. If the National Weather Service's forecast is correct, the buzz about a blizzard at the first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl will turn out to be just talk. As of Wednesday, no snow, or even rain, was being predicted for Sunday's game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Players on both teams have experienced chilly conditions during games, of course, although they don't regularly brace for the sort of brrrr that's anticipated for this Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, even if there isn't any snow. The high temperature Sunday is expected to be 38 degrees, which would make it the coldest of the 48 Super Bowls so far.