GLENDALE, Ariz.—Richard Sherman began his postgame press conference trying to keep the mood light.
Not long after his 2017 season came to a premature end due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback walked to the podium on crutches, joking that now he'll have "more time for the Tweeter." Standing in a bright green suit, he then added, "This suit was a lot cooler before the game."
A few minutes later, when asked about the love and support shown by his teammates, Sherman could no longer hide his emotions. Fighting back tears, his voice cracking, Sherman said, "I've just got to stay positive, that's all I can do."
This injury, the most serious of several suffered by Seahawks players in Thursday night's 22-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, cast a pall over what would usually be cause for celebration—a hard fought road win over an NFC West foe. What would normally have been a raucous locker room was unusually subdued late Thursday night.
Whatever the Seahawks do the rest of this season, they'll have to do it without Sherman, who has never missed a start since taking over the starting job at left cornerback midway through the 2011 season.
"It's hard for me to be fired up about this, because a lot of guys got banged up today," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "…He's been just a bastion of consistency and competitiveness and toughness. Through all of the stuff we've worked through together and all of it, it has been awesome. It has been hard, it has been challenging. He has been an extraordinary, almost iconic player in this league. I'm going to try not to go overboard about this, but that's just how I feel about it. We'll miss the heck out of him. He'll be with us every step of the way when he can, but we'll miss the heck out of him."
Added linebacker Bobby Wagner, "It's hard to enjoy the win. You've got so many people down on both teams. These Thursday night games, it's tough on a lot of these players to get their bodies back. It's unfortunate the amount of guys who got hurt today."
Sherman's injuries hit teammates and coaches hard not just because they knew the team lost one of its best players, but because of how much work they have seen him put in over the years, allowing him to go from fifth-round pick to one of the game's biggest stars; because of the teammate he has been, making it a point throughout his career to take young defensive backs under his wing; and because of how tough he has been throughout his career, playing through numerous injuries to play in 117 consecutive games, postseason included, a streak that will come to an end when the Seahawks host Atlanta next week.
"To see Richard Sherman go down, that was tough," said quarterback Russell Wilson. "He's a guy who works so hard, he's a great teammate, he's a guy who's dedicated to the game, dedicated to his teammates. It's a tough sport we play, and when you see guys like that go down, you get a little emotional, because the guy has worked so hard to be great—he's going to be a Hall of Fame corner—and to lose a guy like that is never good."
With so many players on both teams going down with injuries, Carroll wanted to stress just how taxing this game can be on players, something that was all too obvious as key players on both sides left the game early.
"I hope you guys recognize how challenging this is for NFL players," Carroll said. "It's so challenging physically, they have to go through so much and they risk so much. For them to fight and scratch and claw like that—I'm talking about both teams and every team that plays this game, not just about tonight. I hope you guys will understand how admirable it is, because they love the game. Of course they're getting paid and all, but they go through a tremendous amount, and it just tears your heart out when it gets taken away because of injuries."
Sherman has been battling an Achilles injury for much of this season, and knew there was a risk it would rupture at some point, but wanted to play as long as he could to help his team.
"I knew what was happening," he said. "It has been bothering me all season. It was one of those things you just had to play through as long as you can, then when it goes, it goes."
Asked why he would play through the injury week after week knowing that was a possibility, Sherman said, "Because every game matters in this league, every game matters. You go out there and play for your teammates. Go out there and try to give them all you've got, because they deserve it. That's what I did; I wanted to give my team the best chance to win. We were kind of beat up at corner anyway, didn't want to put the young guys in a hard spot."
After the injury, Sherman remained on Seattle's sideline, helping coach up and encourage teammates throughout the second half. When Jeremy Lane got his hand on an extra point, causing it to miss wide left—and rushing from the spot where Sherman usually lines up on the kick-block team—Sherman was one of the first people to greet him on the sideline with a hug. Lane, who opened the season as a starter, will now step into a bigger role, likely starting along with Shaquill Griffin, with Justin Coleman staying in the nickel role.
"It's unfortunate," Sherman said. "It sucks. If it was anything I could play with, I'd be out there. But J-Lane and JC and the rook, Shaq, they're all capable, they'll do a great job. I'll stay in the room and make sure they get all the coaching points, and I'll give them everything.
"We've got a veteran team. Guys knew what they were doing, guys were ready. J-Lane's a veteran player, he's a starter in this league, so he stepped right in and played awesome. You just try to make sure you give them the tips you've got, give them pointers, any indicators you see and encourage them. Obviously I can't help them on the field anymore, so I just give them encouragement."
Sherman's willingness to be so supportive right after suffering a devastating injury didn't go unnoticed by his teammates, nor did it surprise them.
"I think it shows to his character, his ability to put himself aside and be able to cheer for the team and he did that every second of the way, coaching guys up," defensive end Michael Bennett said. "That just shows who he is as a leader and who he is as a person."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 22-16 victory over the in Week 10 at University of Phoenix Stadium.