Congratulations, Richard Sherman, you locked down a weak receiving core with a bum quarterback and beat the Washington Redskins. Now can you act like you’ve won before?
Trent Williams was wrong to hit Sherman after the Redskins lost Sunday. I would have hit him repeatedly. What would you expect after beating a guy at home to end his season and getting in his face after the game? Maybe Williams didn’t mean to gouge Sherman’s eye. Instead, he was telling him to go back to the circus and paint his face in sign language.
From my experience, every team has a few players like Sherman. The kind who yaps all game and beyond. For some reason they are usually corners, and they come in packs like cackling jackals. Regardless of their position, people only respect those players when they’re winning. If I can offer one piece of advice it’s to NEVER engage them verbally. Just beat them down. The funny thing is the best players rarely talk. They usually sneak up and blow your lid off or high step a pick six to the house without saying a word. The funnier thing is the fact I’m writing about Sherman means he’s won over me too.
It makes you feel sorry for Andrew Luck, who faced off with Sherman at Stanford for several years. And it makes you feel worse for the Seattle Seahawks receivers that have to put it with him all year, as it’s probably worse in practice. As an offensive unit in college, we used to pick the loudest cornerback in practice every week and run an air raid on them until they shut up or were benched. Hint: it was always the same guy. After he pulled me down by the face mask during a 7-on-7 drill in light strip one year, we fought instantly. It was his second fight that practice, and my only one of the year. He was 0-2. I went undefeated on the season.
Playing against a rival with a talker like Sherman on the team is truly something to be savored. I remember the University of British Columbia had one in particularly. He was an overweight corner with a mouth frozen on turbo and slow feet. Most of these guys don’t know to shut up when they are losing either. You scheme for them. You dream of them.
This particular corner once trash talked our QB and offensive co-ordinator in the third quarter of a home-and-home rivalry for an entire timeout. Seriously, who trash talks a sideline during a timeout? Our QB told him to play man cover. He did. We ran play action and burned him 1-on-1 on a deep ball for six points. Like 50, maybe 60 yards deep for six, and it wasn’t even close. We won 42-12 on his turf.
Six days later he started talking again in the first quarter. It started after our quarterback ran a draw to his side and TRUCKED him. Yup, he got up and called for it again. So we ran a toss at him to the short side of the field, the kind of toss where the receiver cracks down on the linebacker while the fullback and play-side guard pull and double the corner. I nicknamed it the Swinging Gate. We ran it for three first downs in a row. Then we drilled a 25-yard back shoulder streak on the bewildered fella for six before winning 35-17.
Not that this is new behavior from Sherman. He pulled a similarly classy move on Tom Brady after the Seahawks beat the Patriots at home. Seattle won’t advance to the Superbowl, so there’s no hope of facing the Patriots again this year, but rest assured the next time they do Brady is either going bomb on him all day long, or send the Gronk to on a flat route and run him down like a mouse on the highway. Personally, I can’t wait for that moment because there’s no greater feeling than lighting up a loudmouth corner. If I’m the Atlanta Falcons this week I script a sweep towards him during the first six plays regardless. You want the spotlight? Have your fill son. Oh, and meet Julio Jones and Roddy White. They have a healthy QB and just might be the best receiving tandem in the league.
I imagine there must be a few teammates wary of Sherman’s act. As long as he’s winning there isn’t much anyone can say to him. But while any team can string together a hot streak, not everyone can win a Super Bowl. Sherman better keep it up because the day he loses a step and blows a coverage, the entire offense will cave in on him. There’s a difference between intimidating and annoying. That difference is simply in the W or the L column. If Sherman wants people to respect him as a player regardless, he should act like he’s won before until he beats someone that matters.
Now that he keeps asking for the spotlight, he’s a prime target to get more than he bargained for. You’d better keep it up Rich, you don’t want to be that guy. Don’t get burned. Ever.
Luke Purm is a freelance writer and former college football player (a wide receiver at Simon Fraser University) with an inside look at the sights and sounds from the huddle, down the field, through the air, in the endzone, under the pile, out of the locker room, on the scoreboard, and everywhere else football sweats, smells, yells, breathes and collides with life. Follow him on Twitter.