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January 22, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Richard Sherman: Boast and backlash ‘kind of profound’

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman spoke with the gathered media Wednesday for the first time since his controversial postgame interviews Sunday.

Here is some of what he had to say…

*     *     *

(How have you felt about the backlash to Sunday’s postgame interviews?) “It is what it is. Things like that happen and you deal with the consequences. You deal with people’s opinions. I come from a place where it’s all adversity, so what’s a little bit more? What’s a little bit more of people telling you what you can’t do and what you’re not going to do and what you’ve done? It’s always a little bit more of that, but it’s fine to me.”

(Were you surprised at the way it blew up?) “Yeah, I’m really surprised by that. If I were to really have known it was going to blow up like that, I probably would’ve approached it differently — just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates’ great games. Kam Chancellor played a fantastic football game, had an interception, huge plays in the game and played almost a perfect ballgame. Marshawn — freakin’ Beast Mode — ran for 100 yards plus, had a great touchdown run. Bobby had 15 tackles. So many people played so many great games that you would think the stories would be about them. That’s the only thing I feel kind of regretful about.”

(What surprised you more: the backlash or the support you received?) “I think the backlash, because I think the support came after the backlash. … Everybody was surprised by it. I think I was a little surprised by it, because we’re talking about football here. A lot of people took a little further than football. I guess some people showed how far we’ve really come in this day and age. It was kind of profound what happened, and people’s opinion and things of that nature, because I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected, maybe things may have been immature, things could’ve been worded better, but this was on a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes or doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game. I didn’t have time to sit there and contemplate, ‘What am I going to say?’ But people behind computer screens that are typing had all the time in the world to contemplate everything they were going to say and articulate it exactly how they wanted to. Some of it, I’m sure they’re pretty embarrassed about.”

(Can you imagine what Media Day is going to be like after this?) “(laughs) I really can’t. I really can’t. But I imagine it’s going to be fun, and I’ll embrace it, and I’ll have my teammates there, and we’ll enjoy the moment, man. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us, and we’ve worked hard to get here. Nothing was given to us. You have to earn your way here, so it’ll be well-deserved for the whole team.”

(Was there any moment of support that touched you? We saw Hank Aaron tweeted to you…) “There were countless individuals. Hank Aaron was one of them. There were countless players who reached out. Obviously family members. A lot of friends who I hadn’t talked to in a while reached out with support. And I appreciate all of it. You appreciate having great people in your corner, and great coaches like David Shaw in your corner, and people that just really appreciate you as a human and really know who you are and what you stand for and aren’t as quick to judge, because they really have an in-depth view of who I am and what I’m about.”

(Some people have already dubbed this Super Bowl the virtuous versus the villains. How would you respond?) “(laughs) … That’s hilarious. That’s hilarious, because any time you label Russell Wilson a villain, it’s got to be a joke, right? Oh, that’s funny.”

(It seems like your teammates didn’t feel like you were trying to take away from them? Did you have any private conversations with teammates about this all?) “They’re just great teammates, man. We’re a family and we’re really tight-knit. A lot of people say that, a lot of teams say that, but I think it really holds true for our team. I love them and I appreciate them, and they would never say a bad thing about me, even if it was true and even if they did feel that way, they’re just great, fantastic players and great, fantastic men, and that’s why I love them. But no, we didn’t have any private conversations. It was just a feeling in my heart. You want to see guys get glory they deserve. You want to see the Kam Chancellors be labeled as one of the best safeties out there because he played like one of the best safeties out there. You want to see everybody get the recognition and acclaim they deserve, and they weren’t. That just makes you feel some type of way.”

(How do you define sportsmanship and what does that mean you?) “I think sportsmanship is… that’s a good question. I guess just being a competitor, giving respect where it’s due. Going out there and giving everything you’ve got every play. Not breaking any rules. Not one ill-intent to harm anyone on the field. Things like that.”

(Given the backlash, will it change the way you talk or what you say?) “No, no. I really don’t know how to be anyone else. I can only be myself. I’ll obviously learn from my mistakes and try to do it better, word situations like that better, and be more mature about the situation and understand the moment. But you can’t be anybody else. You can’t make things up now. It’s gotten us this far, and it’d be hard to make something else and be somebody else. I can only be myself.”

(Was there ever a time, maybe at Stanford, where you tried to change how you are and it didn’t work for you?) “I’ve tried it. I’ve tried it multiple times. It cuts my game. You can only do things if I’m putting my all into it. If you catch me as I’m putting my all into it, you may get something like what happened at the end of the game. I put my all into this game. I put my sole focus, my passion, my energy, my everything. I’m at home watching film. I don’t get to talk to my family as much, and they understand that because I’m putting everything into the game. After the game, you’re putting everything out there, and you’ve been victorious, it is what it is.”

(Is there a point where that switches over and you go into game-mode?) “Yes, as soon as I get on the bus to ride to the stadium it’s all on. I’m in my zone. It’d be hard for somebody to call me and have a conversation. I wouldn’t answer my phone once I flip my switch. I sit right next to Earl Thomas in the same spot every game, and once I get in that seat, it’s game on.”

(Any name for that? Like Beast Mode?) “No, I don’t have any name for it. (laughs)”

(You’ve said in the past one of your sports heroes is Muhammad Ali. Have you learned anything from how he handled controversy like this?) “I think he handled it by continuing to be himself. He handled it head-on. He didn’t hide from it, he didn’t run from it, he took it head on and he stood his ground. His stood his ground, and his circumstances were incredibly high. What he had to deal with was 100 times crazier than it is now. This is regular society, and that’s one of the things that I feel like I may be missing out on, because I feel like my game might be 20 years too late. Maybe I watched those guys too much. Maybe I studied the Muhammad Alis, the Deion Sanders, the guys who played the game — Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice — I studied the old-school game more than I studied the new-school game, and I play it that way. It rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and giving a true speech after a game, a true passionate speech is old-school football. Playing press corner and sitting up there every single play is old-school football. I guess maybe I haven’t just adjusted to the times.”

(Do you think people will understand when some of that Mic’d Up footage comes out?) “I don’t know if they’ll ever give me any sympathy (laughs) … but they will understand that there wasn’t any malice or anything. When I was running up to (Michael Crabtree), obviously it was bad timing, I guess, but I knew that was the game, and after those games, there wasn’t a lot of handshakes. Like I said in the press conference, there weren’t going to be a lot of handshakes. Most of the team got up and walked away and walked off the field. I was going, ‘Good game.’ I wouldn’t get a chance to say good game … and I’m sure they’ll see that on the tape.”

(Have you reached out to Michael Crabtree?) “I have not.”

(Do you regret the choke sign?) “No man, it’s Reggie Miller. It’s Reggie Miller. These are rivalries right?”

(If you’re portrayed as villains, can you feed off of that?) “Nah, I don’t think we would accept that. We have too many great players who don’t deserve that label and don’t deserve to be looked at in that light. The Russell Wilsons and Earl Thomases and Kam Chancellors have done nothing to… well, I can’t say Kam, he’s a bad boy … but they’ve done nothing to deserve that label. Now if they label me a villain, then it’d be what it is. Maybe my actions did… whatever.”

(Do you think you’re a villain?) “No, I don’t. I don’t. I don’t think I’m a villain. I think people always say the old cliché, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but they’re judging a book by its cover. They’re judging me off the football field, on the football field, during the game, right after the game, and then not judging me off of who I am. If I had gotten arrested 10 times, or committed all these crimes, or got suspended for fighting off the field and all that, then I can accept being a villain. But I’ve done nothing villainous.”

(Does the word ‘thug’ bother you more than anything?) “The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the n-word nowadays. It’s like everybody else said the n-word, then they said ‘thug’, and they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ That’s where it kind of takes me aback, and it’s kind of disappointing, because they know. What’s the definition of a thug, really? Can a guy on a football field just talking to people… maybe I’m talking loudly and talking like I’m not supposed, but there was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and starting fighting. I saw that and said, ‘I’m the thug? What’s going on? Geez!’ I’m really disappointed in being called a thug.”

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