Richard Sherman said it. He meant it. He now regrets it.
The NFL fined the Seattle Seahawks cornerback $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting for his postgame rant on national television on Jan. 19.
It wasn’t the fine or the criticism that bothered Sherman the most. It was that his angry outburst against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree overshadowed the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory, which punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I regretted just attacking a man and taking away from my teammates,” Sherman said Tuesday. “You never want to talk down on a man to build yourself up and things like that. So I regretted that, and I regretted taking that attention away from my teammates. That’s the one thing that I wish I could do again.”
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Sherman became the rare defensive player to steal the show during media day, joining the likes of Ray Lewis, Hollywood Henderson, Mean Joe Greene and Deion Sanders. That surprised Sherman but not his teammates.
“All of the things that he’s done for our football team, he deserves the attention with the way that he plays,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I love that about Richard.”
Sherman was the first Seahawks player to media day, surrounded by cameras, reporters and security, and he was the last to leave the hourlong session. He was articulate, gracious and humble, none of the words used to describe him immediately after the NFC Championship Game.
With 55.9 million viewers hanging on his every word, Sherman angrily screamed into the microphone held by Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews: “Well, I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Many took to social media to call him classless, selfish, a thug and worse for his 15-second sound bite.
“If I had more time to think things over, it would have been better articulated, obviously,” Sherman said. “A lower volume. It would have been a clearer, more concise message. The criticism would have been less. The attention put on it would have been less. The way I treated the situation would have been different.”
While Peyton Manning plays the part of Captain America this week, Sherman has become the villain everyone not dressed in bright green and blue loves to hate.
“I think a certain aspect has always looked at a certain kind of people as a villain,” Sherman said.
Sherman, who is black, wears dreadlocks. He also survived gang-infested Compton, Calif., to graduate from high school with a 4.2 grade-point average and received his communications degree from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA.
“I think image has a good amount to do with it,” Sherman said. “If you saw a picture of me, and you didn’t have any background information, didn’t have anything to do with it, how would you caption this picture? I think people would pass judgment. That discussion has begun. We have started to discuss things. People are trying to get past it and break those walls down. Try to get to know someone before you pass judgment.”
It is easier to pass judgment on Sherman than pass the football against him. Sherman carries a lot of labels, the most important this week being “Best Cornerback in the NFL.”
“Richard is just being Richard, and we all know him and love him,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a valuable team member. He’s a leader on our football team. He’s got a great message about the way he competes and carries himself. The fact that he was seen in the competitive moment and all of that just demonstrates some of the makeup it takes to be a great player and a great performer. You were also able to see the other end of what Richard is all about with the follow-up. He’s an incredible kid, and he’s only helped our team.”