To say Richard Sherman has had a tumultuous time with the Seahawks since Russell Wilson was intercepted by Malcolm Butler at the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX in early 2015 would be an understatement. Last year, the resentment over not running Marshawn Lynch still seething, he publicly called out the coaching staff. This offseason, he was the subject of many unconsummated trade talks. The issues have actually been bubbling for years.
Seth Wickersham wrote an excellent piece for ESPN the Magazine that chronicles the turbulent last couple years in Seattle. This was one of the more intriguing anecdotes, from a practice in June 2014:
Sherman is famous for loving practice, for treating it like a game, for rarely missing it even when injured. For him, it’s where a mystical bond is forged and a win on Sunday becomes an almost accidental byproduct. And so, a few plays later, when Sherman picked off Wilson, it wasn’t enough just to make a great play. He wanted to get inside Wilson’s head, to remind the young Pro Bowler that despite his Super Bowl fame — and endorsements that many on the defense felt they deserved — Sherman still owned his ass.
According to witnesses, Sherman threw the ball back to Wilson and yelled, “You f—ing suck!” Another fight broke out. Sherman was cussing and yelling; Wilson seemed stunned. Pete Carroll stopped practice and would later hold a series of meetings to remind the players they needed to build each other up, not tear each other down — and that they needed to support their quarterback, further pissing off a defense that already thought the head coach went out of his way to protect him.
The piece does a great job at examining Sherman’s general combustibility, and Pete Carroll’s relentlessly positive tactics in seeking to manage it. It also delves into Russell Wilson, who some teammates apparently believe treads the distinction between very good and great, and whose buttoned up persona can be grating at times. For example:
- He has been practicing for press conferences since he was 7 years old;
- He requires guests in his Mariners box to sign non-disclosure agreements;
- There is apparently a feeling that he is treated with favoritism by Carroll’s coaching staff and management, which is galling for defensive players whose unit has formed the backbone of the Seahawks’ success.
But, the story makes it clear that Sherman and Wilson are not enemies, per se. They “co-exist.” And there have been major positives in the relationship over the years. After Sherman broke his ankle in the Super Bowl win over the Broncos, Wilson made sure to seek him out in the postgame celebration scrum and they hugged it out.
To get the full context, it is advisable to carve out the time to read Wickersham’s story today. It will serve as a valuable resource to look back on if and when the Seahawks have some adversity bubble over this upcoming season.