In reality, he is both.
Sherman's standout play is why he's in the spotlight in the first place, but his brashness/confidence/cockiness/whatever you want to call it is also a big part of who he is. On the field, Sherman uses his trash talk to get into an opponent's head -- we're looking at you, Steve Smith -- and off the field he uses it to build his brand.
Here we offer a small sampling of Sherman's greatest hits, so to speak:
"U Mad Bro?" -- Oct. 14, 2012. Sherman, via Twitter, with his now-signature line pasted over a picture of New England quarterback Tom Brady following a Seahawks win over the Patriots.
"Sometimes, man, when the bully gets bullied, that's how it happens." -- Oct. 24, 2012. Sherman responding to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's complaints about the physical play of Seattle's defensive backs.
"In my 24 years of life, I'm better at life than you." -- March 7, 2013. The money shot from a sometimes hilarious, sometimes awkward takedown of ESPN's resident instigator, Skip Bayless, during an appearance on "First Take."
"It helps when you don't listen to the idiots in the draft room. When you don't listen to the idiots, you find players like Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell and myself and Kam Chancellor, the list goes on, Russell Wilson. But if you sit there and listen to the idiots like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay and things like that, you miss a lot of good players." -- Dec. 19, 2013. Sherman explaining why the Seahawks have been able to find so many steals in the draft.
"I don't want to be an island. I want to be more of a tourist attraction. You stop here, I take your money and you go." -- Nov. 14. 2013. Sherman when asked if he takes it as a sign of respect that teams are throwing away from him, which is how cornerback Darrelle Revis earned the nickname "Revis Island."
"I've been proud of you since you spurned us. I told you, I didn't want you to go down that path, I'm proud of you, boy." -- Jan. 6, 2013. Sherman, who was mic'd up, to Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III following a playoff win, a reference to the fact that Sherman encouraged Griffin not to come to Stanford, in part because Andrew Luck was also heading there, but also, perhaps, because he didn't want Griffin to be subjected to playing for Jim Harbaugh.
"A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes." -- Oct. 30, 2011. Sherman to Sports Radio KJR's Curtis Crabtree following his first NFL start, a game in which he suffered a concussion early and kept playing, according to an article he wrote this season for TheMMQB.com.
"I'm still a fifth-round pick last I checked. That will never go away." -- Dec. 27, 2012. Sherman describing why he'll always play with a chip on his shoulder, even after gaining recognition as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.
"I wanted to make a statement to my city. I'm from Compton (Calif.), and it's hard for people to understand that you can be an athlete and have high academic standards and achieve high academic things. So, I really wanted to make that known to people that you can go to Stanford from Compton." -- April 30, 2011. Sherman on the day he was drafted, explaining why he went to Stanford despite also having an offer from USC.
"He's an incredibly perspicacious guy." -- Oct. 3, 2013. Sherman, describing former Stanford teammate and current Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who a day earlier had described Sherman as vociferous. In the game of vocabulary one-upmanship, Sherman's description of Luck means, "having or showing an ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious."
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