RENTON It was more like old times than like 2016.
Richard Sherman talked at length on Wednesday with the Seattle-area media in a press conference setting for the first time since mid-December.
No more media boycott, at least not for this minicamp day in June.
"It’s like a brand-new, old attitude. It’s like I’m taking it back,” the Seahawks’ three-time All-Pro cornerback said, “like (when) I was a cold dude.
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“I’m getting back to my ways."
He talked for nearly 20 minutes. He answered every question from behind a small, round table, some microphones and multiple television cameras off the practice field at team headquarters. He spent most of that time leaning on the table top into the microphones, smiling, joking with passing teammates Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett -- and generally seeming at ease with all he had to say and with what’s gone on with him over his last six, tumultuous months.
Here is all he said:
Wagner walks past on his way into the locker room.
“Richard’s talking!” Wagner says. “Richard’s talking!”
“Hi, Bobby!” Sherman says.
“Nice hat,” the All-Pro linebacker tells Sherman, whose wearing a blue Seahawks team cap.
“Thanks. Nice neck,” Sherman replies. “Is that a neck roll you ... OK. OK, Bob. I love you, too.”
How’s your offseason been?
"It's been great, outside of running around with kids, blowing up toys and watching them get destroyed, buy more toys, buy a car, lose a car, break a car, getting kicked in the face by kids . . . outside of that, it's fantastic. Football is football."
What led up to the trade possibility?
“It's just a conversation they have every year. I guess this year, more people knew about it. It's a conversation they have every year -- everybody's open, everybody's available. They just made sure I knew, and you guys found out. Pretty open about it. It was never a situation where anybody asked for it. It was just a conversation."
You didn't ask for a trade?
"We didn't. We didn't. We just had conversations about it. It is what it is. Great conversations, great dialogue. We were transparent. Nobody's worried about it."
Were you OK with it?
"I didn't mind. You know this is a business, football is always a business. You understand that from the day you get in it. You don't have much choice in the matter. You just gotta live your life. Don't worry about it."
Did you think about still being a Seahawk?
"I wasn't worried about it in the least. Bobby was worried about it -- he has veins in his head. Bobby is assistant GM. But he wasn't worried."
On last month’s ESPN article by Seth Wickersham and its claim he's remains upset about the loss to New England in Super Bowl 49...
"I think he's just looking for attention, just like a lot of reporters are these days. I think it’s tough for good journalists who make good stories and really focus on the game and really focus on doing their job the correct way to make a living, because you have click-bait writers like that. He could have easily made a story about how a great team has a great competitive environment, competitive locker room and an iron-sharps-iron mentality from offense to defense. That would have been fantastic; it would have been a fantastic story. It probably would have still gotten the same number of clicks, but he went from controversial, nonsense angle, which anybody can do. You can do that about any competitive team in the NFL. You can take one snapshot moment of a practice of a team on their way to Super Bowl and say 'Wow, there's discord there. Wow, they must be not going to the playoffs this year.' But he could have made the story about 'Wow, their offense and defense really go at it every day and really push themselves to the limits. Really celebrated the competitiveness and appreciated how great the team is, how great the locker room has to be for guys to be able to be that competitive on the field and then come into the locker room and have a fantastic relationship. But he didn't because he needed clicks. He wanted to make it controversial.
“That's just an unfortunate landscape that we live in now. So we didn't really worry about it. We know what the truth is. Obviously it doesn't matter what the truth is to the public because you got stories like this. People are like 'Oh my god, what's going on in the locker room?' It's like, 'Well, we've won a playoff game every year since then.'”
What do you mean discord on the way to the Super Bowl?
"Because that's the way he's trying to sell the story, because there isn't any, but in order to sell a story you have to create a rhetoric, you have to create a story and that's all he did. You're not talking about a team who hasn't made the playoffs in five years. You're not talking about a team that's missed the playoffs in any year. Maybe if you were talking about a team who had a great team, all these superstars and missed the playoffs, then you could say 'man, there must be something going wrong.' You're talking about a team that's made the playoffs every year but you have nothing else to talk about. You're in an offseason, you want to get your clicks, you want to make a crazy story so you create a rhetoric and nobody can stop you because you can say 'anonymous source said this' and say whatever you want. You can say 'anonymous source and unnamed person said this' and it's all good and nobody is going to question it. But could you imagine a world where players didn't have to do press conferences and all you got was anonymous quotes from the locker room? Could you imagine that? Could you ever imagine that world? Would people respect that or would people question everything? They'd say 'oh, why couldn't he put him name on it?' Every quote, every word, everything I say, everything we say as players, we put our name on it. We put our name on it, you can believe it as true because we said it. We had to put our name on it. We don't get a choice, but when you live in the new landscape of media, great reporters and great journalists have a hard time making a living because they can create great stories about guys, their backgrounds, about a competitive team that goes at it every day, Pete's philosophy, etcetera, etcetera, but it wouldn't get a lot of clicks because it's not controversial enough. So to say that Pete has turmoil in the locker room and that guys don't like each other or guys don't like the quarterback. Or there was one story somebody said quarterback wasn't black enough? These are jokes. We laugh at this in the locker room because it's a complete joke, but in the public it's actually a story because nobody can question it. Nobody researches it. Nobody really asks the question. If you ask us, did anybody say is Russell black enough? Of course not. Nobody ever even thought that. It’s hard enough being a black man in America. To question if somebody is black enough? It’s laughable, but it’s tough to continue to deal with that and nobody ever have facts, nobody ever really do the research. This guy says ‘I did my research, I went to Seattle, I asked a few people questions.’ Well we have our local guys, our local ladies here every day sitting in our locker room during the media period, sitting in the locker room every day good bad or indifferent. Like any other family, do we have our arguments; do we have our tough times? Of course. If I took a snapshot of you and your husband or your boyfriend or your brother arguing and I went on and said oh my god there must be discord in their family that must be a terrible family I would be a fool because it would be shortsighted. But you take one snapshot of our locker room in a competitive environment with us on the field and you create a whole story about it and that’s what is unfortunate."
How is your relationship with Russell Wilson?
“It’s fantastic. It’s fantastic. We’re teammates. It’s like a family. It’s like everyone else in a family, we fight for one another just like I’m fighting for the other 52 guys out there, I’m fighting for him and he’s fighting for us. We have a great appreciation for how tough our quarterback is and what he has played through. Last year he played through a number of injuries and he’s not doing that just because ‘Ah man I’ve got to go out there and it’s a job.’ He’s doing that for the guys next to him and we appreciate that and we think he is a great quarterback. But it doesn’t matter what we say. It doesn’t matter what we say at the end of the day because we could say that until the cows come home, but one guy says he has a story and he’s heard a rumor about this, about somebody down the way saying something and that is the truth.”
How do you feel about the article’s claim about Wilson being treated differently than the rest of the team?
“The same, the same. Just a made up story because you could literally say that about any team, any quarterback. You could say ‘Well, the Patriots probably think Tom Brady gets treated differently than everybody else.’ (Brady does, Bennett says, the defensive end walks past).
“But it would be a legitimate claim. You could make a legitimate claim, you could make this exact same story out of just about any of the teams in the playoffs and a couple that weren’t in the playoffs last year. Any competitive team that has a great offense and great defense, Super Bowl teams, Atlanta and New England freaking Green Bay I guarantee you, you go to a practice in the middle of training camp and mic’d everybody up you wouldn’t be able to produce that story, you wouldn’t be able to produce that dialogue you would never be able to produce that audio because that’s what it takes. We play a violent adrenaline-infused game that takes everything you’ve got and in order to play it at a high level you’ve got to give everything you’ve got, to catch us on the field and try to make a story out of some nonsense like that is laughable but it’s also the unfortunate time that we are in I guess.’’
Do you think the same story would have been written about the locker room had the Seahawks won that Super Bowl?
“I don’t know. Probably. I couldn’t imagine what the story would have been if we hadn’t made the playoffs. I couldn’t imagine what the stories would be if we had missed the playoffs after we lost the Super Bowl. We wouldn’t have been the first team and there have been teams since that have missed the playoffs after making it to the Super Bowl and not a story has been written. But it is what it is. It’s football. It happens. You win some, you lose some. But for some reason false rhetoric is something that follows our team specifically.”
Pete Carroll said in March much of what happened with you last season was “self-inflicted.” What do you think he meant by that?
"He means I hold myself to a high standard and I'm a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of player. So, I'm competitive as all get out. That's what he means. He means I'm competitive as anybody out there and at all times I'm competing. At all times I'm trying to win, at all times I'm trying to push the envelope and push the limits. And it has always been the case - publicly, privately, and elsewhere. So that's what he means. It's never changed. It's never wavered.
“At times it might have gotten kind of overblown, I might have gone over the top, but he understood where it was coming from and so did my teammates. So like I said before, it's just the competitiveness, it's just a competitive team. And that's why my teammates still ride with me. They're still ‘ride or die.’ Because good times and bad times. Just like a family. Just like any other family. You're going to have good times and bad times, but you show your true colors through the good and the bad. And they ride with me through the good and the bad and I ride with them through the good and the bad because we've been there. We're battle-tested.
So upon reflection, can you say that you went too far?
"I just said I might have gone over the top in some encounters. And I've talked to them and at the end of the day, those are the only people I feel I need to talk to.”
What’s your attitude entering this season?
"It's like a brand-new, old attitude. It's like I'm taking it back."
Back to when?
"Like I was a cold dude, I'm getting back to my ways."
Was last year a struggle, with the knee and other issues at the end of the season? Was it your hardest season?
"I don't think it was my hardest season, personally. I kind of had a season similar to my rookie year. You know, knee issues and playing through injuries, but we weren't going to the playoffs, nobody had high expectations for us. Nobody was really - at that time people were calling the Seahawks "South Seattle" or I mean "South Alaska" or something like that. That was like a running joke. And so it was different, I guess. We've always had to battle through injuries but I guess, physically it was pretty tough but you know, I think when you compound that with kids and stuff like that and lack of sleep, it may have been a little different."
Carroll said your constant matchups with top receivers left you constantly charged up. Is there truth to that?
“There’s probably some truth to that because I’m a competitor. Just always trying to win, always trying to do everything, constantly watching film, constantly trying to find an edge, constantly at it. You’ve got to be at it to deal with these top guys these days, especially the Julios (Julio Jones), the A.J.s (A.J. Green), Brandon Marshall, AB (Antonio Brown), a lot of these top guys, you’ve got to be on your Ps and Qs.”
Do you feel like the Super Bowl loss still lingers over the team?
“I don’t. Because for it to linger, most of these guys would have to be here, and the guys that are here have moved past it. I mean we’ve had Pro Bowl, All-Pro seasons since then, and we’re battling. Sometimes you run into injuries like we did last year and the year before and you get derailed. Or you run into a better opponent like we did Carolina that year, and it doesn’t work out. I don’t think that has anything to do with a Super Bowl hangover or anything. It’s just football. A hundred percent injury rate. You need some luck to get there. And unfortunately we didn’t have the luck we needed, and we didn’t make the plays that we need to move forward. But I don’t think it has anything to do with a Super Bowl hangover. I think we still have the tools and we still have everything we need. We win it this year, and I think the questions are still the same. I think it’s just, ‘Oh they got one. Is the window closing?’ Because you always need a story.”
How do you feel about your future and status with the franchise?
“I feel fantastic. I always feel good about my future as long as I'm playing god football and doing my job. Now, if I go out there and play like terrible, like somebody else then I wouldn't feel good about anything. But as long you're playing football and I'm around my guys I think I'll be fine.”
Do you want to be a Seahawk for the rest of your career?
“I would definitely like to retire a Seahawk and finish my career here. You know we've always started here, we started something special and I think it would be best to end something special here. I guess we wouldn't end anything special, you still might have guys on this team who are here for 20 years like a Charles (Woodson), which would be a blessing, but that's a story for a different day. I think this is a great city. This is a city that I would like to raise my kids in. The people here are much more polite than the people in L.A. and I'm from L.A. so that's saying a lot. I think that it would be a great place to raise kids and to continue my career.”
How realistic is that?
“As realistic as anything else. I guess it's as realistic as anyone else retiring a Seahawk. I think we old timers Kam, Russell, myself Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, certain guys, K.J. Wright, have played here they're entire careers and have really cemented a legacy here. It's one of those things where it would be odd to see this team without certain guys.”
Why would the Seahawks even consider trading you at this point?
"Because they are always open to possibilities, to hear what people's got to say. If somebody comes with two first-rounders I wouldn't blame them in the least, you know? (he chuckles) I wouldn't blame them, at all. It'd be another crazy trade -- who was it that got traded like that, Herschel Walker or something like that? But it's just conversation. I think we have a fantastic relationship, and always have. And it's always been transparent to have those communications and not have them in a, in a rude or discourteous way, but just professionally."
Quick softball question: What’s it mean to be a father and how’s that changed you?
"Man, it's crazy. It means that I have a lot more patience than a year ago or two years ago, when I wasn't a father. I have a greater understanding for what my parents went through, all the strife and the headaches that I gave them. But you also have an understanding for the love and appreciation that you can feel for another human being, how crazy you can love and how crazy you could feel if somebody hurt your kid, even if it's you other kid. You know, there's nothing like seeing your kid hurt. I promise you, there's no other pain. You wish nothing more than to take their pain away. But I think it just gave me a perspective of my parents and just what's really important in life."
Do you think about getting enshrined into the Hall of Fame?
"I'm I THAT old? You are like, 'You are at the stage you are almost ready to hang them up...' No, I'm just kidding.
"Honestly, I always felt like the moment you start looking back and reflecting on what you have done is the moment that it's time to hang them up. The moment you felt you've made it, and you've arrived, and you don't have anything else more to accomplish -- that's the way I feel. So I never feel like I ... I've never stopped to say, 'Man, you've done some cool stuff,' because I'm always looking forward. I'm always trying to do more. I am always trying to compete more. We are trying win more championships. We are trying to do more, especially with the talent that we have and the players that we have. So, I honestly haven't had time, you know. I think once I am said and done and I hang the cleats up I'll look back and check to see what I've done and if this game will remember me but right now I'm just head down, grinding.”