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Borrowing from their fellow Boomers
Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor seemingly have it all.
Let’s start with the cool nickname – the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks’ secondary has become so well known by the moniker that even President Barack Obama referred to them by nickname during the Super Bowl champions’ visit to the White House in May.
It is not a Legion-a-trois, of course. Byron Maxwell stepped in last December as the starter at right cornerback, as an injury replacement for Brandon Browner, who then signed with the New England Patriots in free agency. And Thomas, Sherman and Chancellor have been sure to include all the defensive backs in the blanket coverage that comes with the nickname – a group that currently includes nickel back Jeremy Lane, third safety Jeron Johnson, the versatile DeShawn Shead, long-limbed corner Tharold Simon and rookie Eric Pinkins, as well as Phillip Adams, Akeem Auguste, Dion Bailey, Chandler Fenner, Terrance Parks and A.J. Jefferson.
But Thomas, Sherman and Chancellor are the longest-tenured members of the still-young group – and also have generated the most statistics, which have allowed them to garner the most honors, which helped earn each a lucrative contract extension.
Sherman, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011, led the NFL in interceptions last season. And since stepping into the lineup as a third-option injury replacement at left cornerback midway through his rookie season, no one in the league has more interceptions (20) or passes defensed (60). He also has been selected All-Pro the past two seasons and last season was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Like Thomas, Sherman recently signed a contract extension that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Fame, fortune and, oh yeah, Super Bowl champions before they’ve even reached their prime.
What more could these guys ask for? How about which trait from one of the others they would like to incorporate into their already-ample games?
Chancellor pondered the question for a moment before offering, “Um, it would probably be the way Sherm plays the ball in the air. He just has a knack for it.”
That’s because Sherman used to be a wide receiver. In fact, he didn’t move to cornerback until his final season at Stanford University. But time and again, while compiling the eight interceptions that led the NFL last season and the 20 that are tops in the league over the past three seasons, Sherman has locked onto the pass he is about to intercept before the intended receiver.
Just the thought of Chancellor with even better ball skills when the pass is in the air is as frightening as some of the licks he has laid on intended receivers.
Not surprisingly, Sherman opted for one from Column Thomas and one from Column Chancellor.
“Let me get his tenacity,” said Sherman, leaning toward Thomas who has the cubicle next to his in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “Give me his tenacity and I’ll be alright.
“And give me Kam’s menace.”
Sherman with Thomas’ tenacity and a splash of Chancellor’s menacing ways? Whoa.
Thomas’ response was not a surprise; in that he played the impressive hand he has been dealt.
“I pretty much like my game,” said Thomas, who last season finished third in the balloting for NFL Defensive Player of the Year with 7.5 votes – behind Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (13) and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis (11.5) and ahead of St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (6), Sherman (4) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (2).
“I’m happy they play the way they play, and I’m happy I play the way I play.”
It’s a complement that goes with the compliments.
“We all work together,” Thomas said. “We all complement each other so well. I think where we really are all alike is our mental side of the game. We’re very smart. We understand concepts and we understand ball, in general.
“We play so fast. We’re very engaged in the game. And we communicate so well, we have fun out there. This is a child’s game. We understand that. And I think it’s just the competition. We’re very competitive. And we just want to have success every time out. We want to win, no matter who we’re playing.”
Thomas cracked the slightest of smiles before adding, “That’s why we’re so hard to beat.”