Richard Sherman was scheduled to drop by the post-practice interview area at Seattle Seahawks headquarters after Monday’s training session.
As he neared the cameras and microphones, Sherman could be seen shaking his head when a PR assistant tried to lead him to the vacant podium. Sherman continued to shake his head after a couple of more exchanges.
Ah, he is on the cover of the new Madden video game, is chums with the president and has been named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people on the planet, so he has reached the point where he’s going to blow off the local media.
He’d been so spectacularly cooperative about these things throughout his career that no one could have expected that Sherman would turn his back on us.
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And he didn’t. He just had more pressing business at the moment. As he walked past the gathering, he announced: “Gotta get my (weight) lifting done first.”
That display should bring to rest any question whether fame and fortune (new contract featuring $40 million guaranteed) have changed Sherman, or whether it all might take the edge off his unrelenting competitiveness.
“I don’t know that he’s missed maybe a day the whole (offseason),” coach Pete Carroll said of Sherman’s focus on his work during the hectic months since the Super Bowl win. “His work ethic is perfect. (He’s) here with competitiveness every day. He does a good job of leading in that regard.”
After his contract extension was announced, Sherman promised he’d never lose the “raggedy-dog” persona that helped him earn a scholarship to Stanford out of a tough Compton neighborhood and go from NFL long shot to one of the most recognizable athletes in America.
“Still the raggedy dog ... that never goes away,” he said Monday.
Of the Madden game cover, he said he has no worries about the so-called “Madden curse,” purported to plague the cover boy with injuries or a subpar season. And he added that he has been trying to force the company to have the cover include his mates in the secondary — the Legion of Boom — not just himself.
Sherman’s abundant confidence keeps him from being viewed as the humble type, but he doesn’t have to look far for those eager to be sure he doesn’t get out of hand.
During Monday’s interview, his old Stanford teammate Doug Baldwin sneaked up to inform the media that Sherman has “been getting torched out there on the practice field.”
“That’s my boy,” Sherman cracked of Baldwin. “He’s grown up before my eyes.”
Several times, Sherman stressed the need to sustain consistency and continuity. The Seahawks figured out a way to win a Super Bowl, and now they have to keep approaching the task in the same way, he said.
He added that winning one was not going to be enough for this young team.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who want to be in the Hall of Fame and do greater things than just win one Super Bowl,” Sherman said. He saw it from the moment the win over Denver was secured. “Guys were sitting there saying, ‘What’s next?’
“We have that kind of intensity and tenacity and hunger for the game. It’s the love of the game that allows us not to be complacent. That’s why you have All-Pros and Pro Bowlers every day out there at OTAs still fighting for jobs like they’re fifth-rounders or undrafted players.”
When told that Carroll cited his perfect attendance at offseason workouts, Sherman seemed surprised anyone might be tempted to take a different approach.
“It’s voluntary, but I’m a ballplayer. ... What else am I going to be doing?” he said. “When you’re a ballplayer at the heart, and this is what you sleep, breathe and eat, then this is where you want to be. I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else because you feel the itch to be back on the field, to be back with your teammates, to be back out there getting better.”
And if you’re not on the field, he said, “It’s hard to be getting better.”
After Sherman led the NFL in interceptions and choked off receptions to his side of the field for most of the season, it might stretch the imagination to think of him getting better.
But he has been proving on the field and in the weight room that nothing is likely to divert him from his goals. He is, after all, a ballplayer at heart.