By John Boyle
The deal is now signed and official, and Richard Sherman is under contract with the Seahawks through the 2018 season, playing under a contract that will make him the highest-paid cornerback in the game.
If you’ve got half an hour to kill, you can watch video of the entire press conference at Seahawks.com. If not, here are a few highlights.
General manager John Schneider opened things up saying, “If you believe in faith, hard work, parental guidance and education, this is your guy for your kids to look up to and to strive to be. This is a guy who’s been raised right and has worked his tail off to be where he is right now.”
Schneider then joked, “The thing I struggle with Richard on is his confidence level. We’re always trying to pump him up and make him feel better about himself,’ but was quickly back to praising Sherman: “This is truly a great American story right here. I think Richard’s going to keep writing this for the rest of his football career, then into the future, we have no idea how far this will go for this young man.”
Schneider reiterated what he and Pete Carroll have said since last season ended—that the goal this offseason was to retain talent, not sign new players, and Sherman’s contract is the latest evidence of things going according to plan: “Obviously our goal when we set out for this offseason was to try to take care of our own. We treaded lightly in free agency to be able to take care of our own guys. We’re just extremely proud that this day has come and proud of what we’ve been able to do so far.”
Carroll said of Sherman, who he has known since he tried to recruit the receiver/cornerback out of Compton’s Dominguez HS: “It’s a great statement about a young man who really demonstrated an extraordinary belief in himself and dedication to be a nerd in high school, way back in the Dominguez days when he was a track star and football player. He was always in the classroom working on his stuff, and he had a real vision of what he could become way back then. To see it come all the way through to this day today, and as John said, it is a beginning really, a new beginning for Richard in his career.
“He’s really special, he’s a tremendous teammate, he cares so much about his teammates, there’s nothing more important to him than that. It makes us proud to be able to recognize this and show the regard that we know you’ve deserved it. ..You’re just getting started too.
“I’m really proud for this guy. It’s been a really cool story for me to watch back in my college days all the way until now.”
Sherman then spent a long time thanking teammates individually, then moved on to his family, thanking his parents for, “For sticking with it, working hard, keeping a roof over my head, keeping food on the table, sticking through the hard times when we didn’t have much. I appreciate that.”
He then said with a laugh: “I’d like to thank Paul Allen for anteing up and paying me, I appreciate that, Paul.”
“I’d like to thank Pete and John for treading lightly in free agency and saving some for me and Earl and showing us they appreciate us, and really doing exactly what they said they would do. We worked hard and did everything we could to bring our team a championship, as so many of our teammates have, and it’s really a blessing to be able to sit up here and have this interview and understand all the hard work has paid off. I guess this is what it feels like to be a first-rounder for a change. They give you a jersey, you stand up here in front of all these people.”
Sherman insisted that his new contract, which includes $40 million in guaranteed money, won’t take the chip off his shoulder that he has had since coming into the league as a fifth-round pick who was drafted behind 23 other cornerbacks.
“Yes, just as big,” he said. “There were still 23 people picked ahead of me, that didn’t change. $40 million didn’t erase that. Nothing will erase that, nothing will erase that chip, nothing will erase that mentality. That’s something I will always keep, it keeps me hungry, it keeps me attacking, it keeps me angry.”
“It’s always going to be there. It doesn’t go away, because at that time, it was disrespect toward me. That’s the way I felt, and that’s the way I’ll always feel. I always think about that, I always read, ‘Richard Sherman will have the capabilities to be a backup corner in this league. He has stiff hips, he’s not fast, he doesn’t accelerate, he doesn’t have natural coverage instincts, he doesn’t have ball skills.’ Those things are things I’ll always keep.”
On getting the deal done now rather than head into the final year of his contract with an uncertain future, Sherman said, “It was important. You never want to have something like hanging over your head. Obviously you’re still going to play the same way and everything, but it allows you to play a little more free, no stress. You don’t have to worry about anything but ball. Day in and day out, you can focus on ball. Your family is taken care of.”
On being the highest paid in the NFL, he said, “It’s just a form of respect. It’s a form of appreciation from my team and I appreciate my team doing that. It’s just a form of respect in this league. When quarterbacks play the best, they’re the highest paid. Peyton Manning, MVP season, he’s the highest paid for a reason. Aaron Rodgers makes what he makes for a reason… It’s just a form of admiration and respect.”