Richard Sherman's Guide To Playing Cornerback

For The Players' Tribune, Seattle's Richard Sherman explains the most difficult part of his job and outlines the intricacies of playing cornerback in the NFL.

Richard Sherman's latest installment in The Players' Tribune's "Tuesdays With Richard On Thursdays" multimedia series sees the Seattle Pro Bowler outlining the intricacies of playing cornerback in the NFL

Sherman, who has several other features on the site that you can check out right here, starts by laying out three questions he's often asked by fans and media alike: 

1. What's the most difficult part of your job?

2. Who's the best corner in the game, besides yourself?

3. Who's the toughest wide receiver to cover?

He goes on to explain how hard each question is to answer in sound bites alone and instead dives into great detail about all of the challenging aspects of the cornerback position, including what factors separate those who are often looked at as some of the game's top cornerbacks.

"...if I had to pinpoint the most difficult part of my job, I would say that it's not any one thing I do on any given play," Sherman writes. "It's doing all of it, every play. I never come off the field when we're on defense. That's more a fact of life for a lot of defensive players in the NFL than it is just for a corner — linebackers only sub out occasionally, and some never do. I'm in there every play, whether the ball comes my way or not. You may not see it on your TV screen at home because the camera always follows the ball, but if the play is away from me, and I've got a fresh backup receiver across from me whose job is to take off down the field and run me away from the play, I have to respect his route. I have to run with him, full speed, like he's the No. 1 receiver and he's getting the ball — because there's always a chance he might. And if I get three different fresh guys off the bench running me off on consecutive plays, and I come back up to the line against their true No. 1 in a crucial situation where I know they like to hit him on a fade, I can't stop the game and say, 'Hold up, I gotta catch my breath.…' Nope. I have to match up — and man up — against their best receiver and do my damn job. No excuses. As corners, we never leave the game. That's part of the challenge."

Sherman, who in his piece gives credit to players like Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Patrick Peterson, and in his prime, Antonio Cromartie, goes on to say that comparing the NFL's top cornerbacks isn't as simple as it sounds. Fans and critics must take each player's unique defensive technique into account.

"So if you're trying to pinpoint the best corner in the league, you have to take all these details into consideration," he writes. "You can't just go off the eye test, because there's so much more to what we do than what you see on TV on Sunday. I'm not one to rank other players, but the guys I mentioned here are the ones that stand out to me."

Sherman teases that he'll answer the question about which receivers are toughest to cover in a future entry, but closes this Thursday's feature by recalling how film study played a role in his game-saving tip during the 2013 NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, and ultimately, their first Lombardi Trophy. 

"At the time, there were a few things that I understood: I understood that the 49ers were driving. I understood the momentum. I understood the situation, and from studying film, I understood what they liked to do in that situation," he says. "And the double move was number one on their list. I made that play because I saw it coming. Because I was prepared. And I had been banged up — run off on the plays before that one and used up on the the drives earlier in the game. When you get to the fourth quarter, nobody is 100%. That's when ballers ball. That's when stars shine. So no matter what had happened previously, the reality was that it was first-and-10, fourth quarter, inside two minutes, and it was me vs. the 49ers' wide receiver, and one of us had to make a play. My job was to make sure it was me. And that's what I did."

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