RENTON A week after challenging a Seattle radio host that he could pull his media credential during his weekly press conference, Richard Sherman wasn’t at the podium for one of the few weeks in recent Seahawks seasons.
I asked the three-time All-Pro cornerback as he walked through the locker room before Wednesday’s practice for Sunday’s game at San Francisco if he was essentially grounded by coach Pete Carroll.
“No,” Sherman said with a smile, “I told them I wasn’t doing them (press conferences) anymore.”
A minute or two later, at his locker, Sherman explained more -- starting with a meeting he and Carroll had last Wednesday, before the NFC West champions lost at home to Arizona. Sherman and Carroll have since elaborated that the meeting was a team-wide one, not just about Sherman berating Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell about play calling on the sidelines during the win over Los Angeles on Dec. 15 and then Sherman’s press conference last week.
Sherman called the meeting another “Kumbaya” one.
"It was good. We just talked about the mood of the team and guys coming together,” he said. “We have a Kumbaya meeting just about every year. So it was just the same thing.
"We don’t sing the song. But we just sit Indian style. Kumbaya."
I asked Sherman if he got punished by coaches or by the team.
"Did you see me get punished?" Sherman asked.
I did not, though of course I’m not privvy to all that goes on inside team headquarters. Who is.
"Did you ask the coach?" Sherman asked.
We did. Last week.
“What did he say?” Sherman asked.
"He said it was an internal matter."
Sherman replied to that with, “So... cool. Cool."
I took all that to mean he was reprimanded or sanctioned in some kind of way by the team or by Carroll, a matter that Sherman and Carroll don’t think is any of our business.
Someone then lightheartedly asked, “No 500 push-ups or anything?”
"You know, they tried to get me to do them,” Sherman joked, “but I’m too buff. So…"
The next question was if he had any regrets with how it all went last week. The question was about the press conference, not the sideline outburst during the Rams game.
"They already asked me that question (last week, about his sideline outburst during the Rams game, not challenging the reporter),” Sherman said. “So, I’ve already answered that.
“You’ve already got the answer to that, right? Cool."
Will he be at the podium in future weeks, back to regular press conferences before rolling television cameras?
"I’ll think about it,” he said. “It’s a privilege, for me to go up there, you know. Not everybody appreciates it like you do."
He said that in a joking manner. But for sure there was intent behind that message.
Asked if it was his choice to not do press conferences now, Sherman said: "Yeah. Yep.
"I’m just going to make sure that people…you know, it’s a privilege to have me up there. So, gonna me miss when I’m gone.”
He laughed at that.
"You are already feeling the effects. Plan’s working.”
Asked more about last week’s team meeting, Sherman reiterated that “it happens every year. It happened (in 2012), after (the) Miami (game, a 24-21 loss). The year after it happened, I think there was some kind of big locker-room deal we kind of had, and it happened after that.
“The other year (2014) we traded Percy (Harvin, in October), it happened after that.
“So kind of every year it happens. So it’s going to happen, regardless."
Sherman said these meetings are not player- but coach-initiated.
"It’s always Pete. It’s always Pete,” he said. “We going into the Kumbaya meeting room and sit there and, ‘Kumbaya.’
"They are effective. It’s a different element for the younger guys. Older guys, we kind of see it every year, so the younger guys, give them something different."
Asked where he thinks his 9-5-1 team is in terms of chemistry and locker-room environment, Sherman said: "Same place we always are. Ready for the next game and to put on another show.”
Historically, the effects of these “Kumbaya” meetings, as Sherman describes them, have been that the team takes off late in the season after them. Seattle won six in a row into the playoffs after that 2012 meeting. They won the Super Bowl the next season after that season’s team meeting. In 2014, after the Harvin trade in October to the New York Jets, the Seahawks won 11 of the next 12 games to reach Super Bowl 49 against New England.
So I asked Sherman if he is concerned the immediate result of this latest team meeting was last weekend’s 34-31 loss to the already-eliminated Cardinals that threatens to cost Seattle a first-round playoff bye.
"No, not concerned, at all. We are in the playoffs. We’ve got a chance to do everything we want to do. So I think we’ll be fine."’
With that, Sherman ran out to practice so as to not be late.