It’s a sad day in Seattle. Richard Sherman, the best cornerback of his era and an icon in this city, is no longer a Seahawk after being released Friday.
Sherman is much more than a football player to fans of this team and the people who know him. He is larger than life, beloved in Seattle and berated almost everywhere else. If you’ve only seen him from afar on TV and view him as a loud-mouth braggart who wants to stir up controversy, you are mistaken.
Sherman is not the person you think he is. In more than three decades of covering sports, I've never met a more caring, more dynamic, more determined, more dedicated or more thought-provoking athlete than Sherman. And I've never met any human being with a bigger heart.
Now Sherman will show what’s in his heart once again, probably with another NFL team. Sherman’s last game for Seattle came four months ago when he ruptured an Achilles tendon.
The Seahawks, a team in desperate need of salary-cap space, wanted him to take a pay cut from his $11 million salary this season as he comes back from the injury. Acting as his own agent, Sherman refused. His pride just wouldn’t allow him to do it. Not yet, anyway.
Knowing Sherman, he probably will want to sign with another team that will enable him to say at the end of the 2018 season, “I told you so.”
He did that coming out of Stanford as a fifth-round draft choice when many NFL teams felt he was too slow and too lanky to play cornerback at the highest level. Sherman knew the name of every cornerback drafted ahead of him. And he was better than all of them.
He had another “I told you so’’ moment when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in his third NFL season. He will turn 30 at the end of this month, coming off the first major injury of his career.
Now he has something to prove again. And he will somewhere. The Seahawks say they would like to have him back under a restructured deal. They made a classy public statement Friday:
“Thank you for helping win championships, shape our culture and define success in Seattle. We love you and your unwavering competitiveness, confidence and fierce passion for football and life. For that, you will always be a Hawk!”
It’s possible Sherman and the Seahawks work something out, but I doubt it. This team is moving on with younger players and my guess is Sherman will want a fresh start elsewhere.
Sherman still was playing at a high level last season on a weakened Achilles tendon, knowing it could snap at any moment. He has some remarkable football moments left in him.
He also will continue a bigger mission as a man willing to take a stand on important issues of the day, trying to make a difference. Sherman made it out of Compton in Los Angeles to graduate from Stanford with honors.
He frequently speaks to kids where he grew up to say “If I can do it, you can do it.” Sherman also donates time, money and athletic equipment to schools in the inner city. He has raised millions of dollars for charitable organizations.
Regardless of what happens going forward, Sherman will go down as one of the greatest cornerbacks ever to play the game with four Pro Bowl appearances, three All-Pro selections and the most interceptions in the league since 2013.
What will matter more in the end is his continuing stance as a provocative voice for change where it is needed and a leader in the community for helping others.