But a day after the Seattle cornerback overshadowed his own amazing play with his postgame reaction to it, both player and coach agreed the Seahawks' outspoken star may have gone a bit too far this time.
To recap, in case you weren't anywhere near the Internet, a newspaper, a TV or a radio Monday, Sherman went on a bit of a postgame tirade immediately after the game during an interview with Fox Sports' Erin Andrews, shouting, "I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like (Michael) Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me." Andrews asked Sherman who was talking about him, and he said, "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best or I'm going to shut it for you real quick. LOB."
By the time Sherman held a postgame press conference, he had calmed down considerably, but he still wasn't done with Crabtree, repeatedly calling the 49ers receiver "mediocre."
Of course as is the case just about every time a 30-second sound bite becomes national news, there is more to the story. Sherman declined to go into details, but said Crabtree did something over the summer to make things personal between them. Sherman's older brother, Branton, told Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer that the incident in question happened at Larry Fitzgerald's charity softball game, at which Crabtree tried to start a fight with Sherman.
Regardless of his motives, however, Sherman realized a day later that the emotions of the moment may have gotten the better of him.
In an article on TheMMQB.com — Sherman is a regular contributor to the website — the cornerback wrote, "A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don't like him. It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don't want to be a villain, because I am not a villainous person."
Sherman also said the following via text message to ESPN's Ed Werder: ""I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates ... That was not my intent."
As Sherman wrote, that outburst was just a small part of who he is, though the trash-talking is often what people most associate with him. But Sherman is also a Stanford graduate, one of the very best in the world at what he does, and somebody who generously gives time and money to help underprivileged children in the Puget Sound region, as well as his home town of Compton, Calif.
Carroll knows as well as anyone that Sherman is a much more complex person than the brash persona making news this week, which is why he talked to Sherman Monday about the message his cornerback is putting out to the world.
"We did talk about it, and he was really clear that the last thing he wanted to do was take something away from our team, what we had accomplished," Carroll said. "He got caught right in the throes of the fight and the battle and all of that, and there's a little bit of leeway there, understandably, particularly for the guys who play on such an edge emotionally like Richard does. ... This is a very emotional kid, and this is what drives him. I understand that. We did sit down and talk about it, because I want him to present himself in his best light. He's an incredible kid."
That does not, however, mean Carroll is trying to change Sherman. He understands that getting in an opponent's head is part of Sherman's game, and that the former fifth-round draft pick feeds off every slight, both real and perceived.
"Our approach is to try to help our guys be the best they can possibly be," Carroll said. "That's the overriding philosophy; we're trying to figure out how we can help our guys perform at their very best. With that thought in mind, some guys have personalities that would fit in some places and they might not fit in other teams. In our situation, we're pretty open to be flexible to the uniqueness that guys bring to our program — not just physically, but also in their makeup. I've got no problem with guys who have personalities that are outgoing, and I don't have any problem with guys who are quiet. I'm OK with that. It's, what is the end result of what they bring?
"When (players) say, 'We let them be themselves,' I told them last weekend, we don't let them be themselves, we celebrate them being themselves. And we cheerlead for them to be themselves, and we try to bring out the very best that they have to offer. Sometimes we go overboard, sometimes the individuals go out of bounds, and then you've got to step back and get back inbounds. I understand that. That's kind of how we operate. It may sound different to you, but that's how we do it."
It's how the Seahawks do it, how Carroll does it, and how Sherman does it, and no drastic changes will be coming anytime soon. Both Carroll and Sherman can agree, however, that Sherman may have gone a bit too far Sunday night.
"There were a lot of great things that happened last night," Carroll said, "and we're talking about some other stuff."
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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