The smile on
Not the one that the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback flashed on numerous occasions Wednesday while seated between coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider at the news conference to announce Sherman’s contract extension. This smile came moments earlier, when Sherman signed the four-year extension that makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
It was the kind of smile that showed just far Sherman has come from that kid wearing hand-me-downs in Compton, Calif., to the best player on the planet at his position – with the financial security that comes with a contract to match his status.
“So I don’t think this part was ever planned. This is one of those things you have to accept and appreciate. But still have the same hunger and you have to put it aside. Just like the Super Bowl win. We won a Super Bowl, but you have to put it aside and understand it for what it is. But also get back to duty.”
As Sherman walked toward the stage in the auditorium at Virginia Mason Athletic Center – with his parents, Beverly and Kevin; his brother, Branton; his girlfriend, Ashley; and Schneider and Carroll – the only thing missing was John Lee Hooker’s “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom” blaring from the sound system.
That’s “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,” as in the Legion of Boom – the nickname earned by the secondary that drives a Seahawks defense which led the NFL in average points and yards allowed last season.
Sherman, 26, thanked the All-Pro safety tandem of
“When you’re around Kam and Earl, you never want to leave them. It’s a family, and you never want to leave the family.”
But that’s also “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,” as in the way the Seahawks have gone about retaining four of the key elements to the team’s success under Carroll that hit the highest of notes with a Super Bowl championship in February.
Just call it taking care of business, Seahawks style.
“Our goals for this offseason were to try to take care of our own,” Schneider said. “We treaded lightly in free agency to be able to take care of our own guys. We’re just extremely proud that this day has come.”
And if you’re worried about money removing – or even eroding – Sherman’s Mount Rainier-sized chip-on-his-shoulder motivation, well, you don’t know what makes this guy tick.
During the news conference, he rattled through the negative scouting reports that dogged him into the third day of the NFL Draft in 2011.
“I always read, ‘Richard Sherman will have the capabilities to be a backup corner in this league. He’s stiff-hipped. He’s not fast. He doesn’t accelerate. He doesn’t have natural cover instincts. He doesn’t have ball skills,’ ” Sherman said. “Those things are things I’ll always keep.”
“Nothing will erase that,” he said. “Nothing will erase that chip. Nothing will erase that mentality. And that’s something I’ll always keep. It keeps me hungry. It keeps me attacking. It keeps me angry.”
Afterward, while talking to reporters who cover the team, Sherman provided his game plan for improvement as the Seahawks prepare to defend the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
“There’s more picks to get,” said Sherman, who led the NFL with eight interceptions last season and has a league-leading 20 since stepping into the lineup as a third-option injury replacement midway through his rookie season.
“I dropped about five of them last year, so I’ve got to catch more. I missed a few tackles, so that’s always an area of emphasis – being able to be more involved in the run game, play recognition. The off technique when people are in nasty splits is always something we’ve got to stay focused on because that’s how teams are going to attack us these days.”
From overlooked to impossible to overlook, it’s a big part of what makes Sherman’s version of the American Dream so satisfying – and deserved.
“If you believe in faith, hard work, parental guidance and education, this is your guy for your kids to look up to and to strive to be,” Schneider said. “This is a guy who’s been raised right and has worked his tail off to be where he is right now.
“This is truly a great American story right here and I think Richard is going to continue to keep writing this for the rest of his football career and then into the future we have no idea how far this is going to go for this young man.”
Sherman and his teammates had an “off” day in their offseason program, but in the audience during the news conference were Thomas and Chancellor; wide receiver
Sherman included his defensive teammates and coaches while completing his “thank you” list, and also owner Paul Allen.
“I’d like to thank Paul Allen for anteing up and paying me,” he said with a laugh. “I appreciate that Paul.”
Sherman also thanked past members of the Legion of Boom – cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, who signed elsewhere in free agency; and the newest starter in the Legion of Boom – cornerback Maxwell, Sherman’s roommate on road games since their rookie seasons.
Despite his elite status, and new lucrative contract, Sherman remains – as Carroll said – not only one of the guys, but one who puts the team first.
“It’s just a form of respect,” Sherman said of being the highest-paid cornerback in the league. “It’s a form of appreciation from my team, and I appreciate my team doing that.”