You know who you are. I'm talking to all of the Richard Sherman haters around the football world who continue to challenge his credibility as one of the top playmaking cornerbacks our game has ever seen. That's right -- one of the top playmaking cornerbacks our game has EVER seen. Let's look at his resume.
» 35 interceptions (most in the NFL since 2011)
» Four-plus INTs in five of his nine NFL seasons
» 41.3 career passer rating allowed in coverage in the postseason
» 36.4 passer rating allowed in coverage in 2019 (including playoffs)
I mean, his numbers -- and these are just a few -- speak for themselves. And they're the reasons Sherm is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro selection. Not to mention the fact that he's playing in his third Super Bowl on Sunday, this time as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
Let me dig a little deeper for y'all who are still in doubt.
I was a captain of the Seahawks back in 2011, the year Sherm was drafted by Seattle, which makes me biased (I don't care). It also gives me a deeper perspective when talking about the young king. Let's go back to the beginning. Sherm came into Seattle and immediately caught the attention of the veteran players. He was a guy who was always up for a challenge and an opportunity to prove himself. But it wasn't until the Bengals game in Week 8 of his rookie season, when I saw him call his own home run like he was Babe Ruth, that I realized this kid was special.
We were sitting in the team meeting room one day prepping for the Bengals; I always sat in the second row from where Coach Pete Carroll spoke, and Sherm and receiver Doug Baldwin were in the first row. At one point, Sherm turned to me and said that he was going to shut A.J. Green down. AND get a pick. I had my doubts. I knew he had skills, but I didn't know how he would handle one of the league's best young receivers in Green. Sherm proceeded to talk and asked me what I thought about the idea of him telling the world his projection after he shut down his fellow rookie. I thought it was brilliant, especially because if Sherm did in fact shut down Cincy's star and was telling the world about it afterward, then there was a good chance we won the game. Green finished that game with four catches on 10 targets for 63 yards and a TD. Sherm also balled out with a pick (the first of his career), four tackles and three PBUs. We ended up losing this game, but it set Sherm up for his manifested success. And he did it his way.
From that point on, Sherm has been betting on himself ... and winning in the process. Whether it was publicly announcing his arrival as a shutdown corner in the 2013 NFC Championship Game, solidifying the "Legion of Boom" as the NFL's top secondary, winning a Super Bowl, becoming the highest-paid cornerback in the league or negotiating his latest contract without an agent.
Let's talk about that for a second. Coming off an Achilles injury that cut his 2017 season short after nine games, Sherman left Seattle and signed a three-year deal worth a maximum of $39.15 million with the San Francisco 49ers, though the full guarantee on the deal was only $3 million. Many analysts, who likely had their agents in their ears, said it was a terrible contract decision and that he would never see his incentives. Well, this season alone, Sherm earned $4 million in incentives by reaching play-time benchmarks and by making the Pro Bowl and All-Pro rosters, and he raised next year's base salary by $1 million. Looks like Sherm got the last laugh again, and in doing so, he's successfully opened the door for other players to do the same.
In looking at his production on the field, his league-leading 35 picks since 2011 tells me one thing: Year after year, he continues to bet on himself by ensuring he is in the right place at the right time to be a playmaker for his team. Sherm tells me all the time that there is a difference between a "swatter" and a playmaker. Swatters just knock the ball down and get excited. Playmakers steal possessions and get paid. THAT is Richard Sherman.
But I can hear the echoes of the haters now:
"Ahhh, he doesn't play that much man."
*"He's too old and washed up." *
"He doesn't travel with the top receiver."
Blah, blah, blah. Darrelle Revis was the most recent victim of the Hater-Ade, calling Sherman out for all of the aforementioned points. The man can only play the defense that is called. What is he supposed to tell his defensive coordinator? To stop playing zone so he can earn a hater's approval? The way I see it, it's better to have a player whom the coach and his teammates alike can trust to play in the scheme. Sherm has the ability to play man and shut players down, but why spend the entire game doing it if the game plan doesn't call for it?
Sherm operates from a cerebral standpoint -- he's a Stanford grad, after all -- and uses his length and receiver-like hands to dominate. This season, per Pro Football Focus, Sherm had the highest coverage grade (90.6) and the second-lowest passer rating allowed (36.4) among defensive backs with 50-plus targets in coverage (including playoffs). He's helped lead a team that won four games last season to the doorstep of winning the franchise's sixth Super Bowl title. That's what I call an impact.
Speaking of Super Bowls, that is a game Sherm is amazing in. In two previous Super Bowl appearances with the Seahawks, Sherm allowed four receptions on seven targets for 16 yards on 92 snaps in coverage, according to PFF. If you're wondering, Patrick Mahomes, that's an opposing passer rating of 62.2. I have no doubt Sherm will show up Sunday.
I'll leave you with this: "A hater is somebody that don't do what you do every day but wake up every day and speak about how you do what you do." -- Rick Ross
The rapper and music mogul spoke these words during a radio interview nearly three years ago, but I couldn't think of a more fitting quote for this piece. So yeah, I hear the haters. Sherm hears the haters. We ALL hear the haters. And I understand, Hater. You wish you could talk the talk and back it up -- year after year after year -- with Hall of Fame-caliber play on the field.
It's time. Give it up and appreciate Sherm for what he's doing in his ninth NFL season.