BY Art Thiel 03:31PM 02/28/2017

Thiel: Is Sherman showing us a Voldemort side?

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman confounded fans and media Monday in an interview in which he said no one cares about the truth anymore, then made up stuff to make his point. What?

Pre-Halloween, Richard Sherman was all about Harry Potter. Now . . . /

I think I’ve figured out the mystery of Richard Sherman. Fans of Seahawks press conferences (12s are weird that way) may recall a pre-Halloween presser in which the Seahawks cornerback entertained the media gathering by showing up as Harry Potter, complete with round spectacles, wand and Hogwarts regalia.

Known as a Potter nerd, Sherman probably understands, as author J.K. Rowling would have it, that a part of Potter’s soul belongs to Voldemort, the Dark Lord and Potter’s arch antagonist in books and films.

So it stands to literary reason that Sherman, based on his comments in an ESPN video interview, is trying out the Voldemort side of the persona.

At least that’s the best I can manufacture to explain his claim Monday that no one heard his December exchange with radio host Jim Moore, in which he threatened to ruin Moore’s career because Sherman didn’t like Moore’s question.

The exchange happened after Sherman left the podium at Seahawks headquarters in Renton and passed by Moore, well within earshot and recording distance of perhaps 30 media members and Seahawks staff.

Despite the fact that the episode was so well-covered that Sherman, apparently on advice of Seahawks’ staffers, felt obliged a few hours later to issue an apology — via his Twitter account, he wrote, “I appreciate the role the media plays and they have a tough job. I let it get pesonal today and I regret that” — he now says there were no witnesses, just unnamed “sources.”

See for yourself:
My only other explanation is that Sherman is enhancing his resume for a job in the Trump administration.

Particularly egregious was Sherman’s interview claim that, “Nobody needs the truth anymore. Nobody cares to know what the truth is. You could just fabricate a story and go with it. Then I got to defend a fabricated story. After awhile, you just get irritated of defending stories that don’t exist.”

Unfortunately, the interviewer, Cari Champion, declined to call him out, even though her question indicated she understood the episode, which began with a question from Moore as to whether Sherman thought he had a “better handle” on playcalling than offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

In the game against the Rams, Sherman ranted on the sidelines at Bevell and coach Pete Carroll over calling a pass play from the one-yard line that was incomplete — an echo of the infamous failed play against New England in the Super Bowl. Post-game, Sherman defended his position, even though the Seahawks scored two plays later on a pass in the 24-3 win.

That meant he was doubling down on the indefensible. Then Sherman tripled down in the next press conference, when he offered no public contrition for the episode that became a team distraction. So that makes his Monday ESPN interview quadrupling down, a feat of rare difficulty.

Somewhere in his thinking, Sherman lost track of his conscience.

Instead of acknowledging a mistake and allowing it to be done, he’s now making stuff up, keeping alive an episode that would have dissolved, and seems to be using a tactic called “gaslighting,” in which victims are slowly brainwashed into disbelieving reality.

The irony is enough to bend light waves, because many have become acutely aware of the tactic during and after the presidential election.

This isn’t a simple case of sports trash-talk, or an emotional rant immediately after a game (the Michael Crabtree episode). This is Sherman calmly attempting to persuade the public of an alternate reality that audio and eyewitness evidence readily contradicts — and for which he apologized.

Without going too far down the road of armchair psychology, Sherman’s erratic behavior last season, which included two separate in-game episodes of public confrontations with coaches, was enough to prompt at least two meetings between Sherman and Carroll, the second on exit day after the season.

“I just wanted to make sure we left on really good terms,” Carroll said in his post-mortem presser. “We talk a lot. I talk with him all the time. I just wanted to make sure to touch base one more time because it was a difficult year for him. The media thing was a big deal. He made it through it. It was hard.”

I asked Carroll if he agreed with Stanford coach David Shaw’s observation to Jan. 5 — one that Sherman himself said was valid — about Sherman struggling to navigate the gulf between his upbringing on the streets of Compton, followed by success at Stanford athletically and academically.

“Well, I would say that Richard is an extraordinary young man and he has done a tremendous job,” Carroll said. “Through the educational process at high school, he was a really good student. He was a dynamic kid in high school at Dominguez. The fact that he got a chance to go to Stanford and cash in on the great education there — he has never forgotten where he grew up and where he came from. He’s been very respectful of that.

“I think he’s a very intriguing young man. I think you guys have all figured that out. So, I don’t know. I can’t put it in a sentence, either. But I think he’s an extraordinary guy. I have great respect for him and all that he does, and is attempting to do and the man he’s growing up to be.

“I think he’s going to be a significant factor. I think he’s really something. He’s still learning, and he knows that.”

Carroll seems to know Sherman well, so the tendency is to accept his view. But Carroll has a lot of emotional and team capital invested in Sherman, so he might not be too objective. Then again, after this latest conflation of that December episode, who is objective as well as knowledgeable about Sherman?

For sure, what would be good to learn is he’s just having fun with the dark side of a movie character.


  • tor5

    There seems to be a strange phenomenon sweeping the land, Art. I remember when admitting your mistakes, taking responsibility, and even apologizing were honorable acts. This has been replaced with steadfast refusal to acknowledge any mistakes are ever made, even after the well documented truth runs over you like a truck. It’s not just Richard Sherman or our commander in chief (who personifies this behavior). It seems to be everywhere. I feel like the number 12 used to signify our comradery with a fun, successful, generally dignified team. But now it’s the age of our collective maturity.

    • art thiel

      I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from Sherman’s odd response. He won’t be the first or last public figure to remember things selectively. Most of us tend to do it too.

      As far as a sweeping national trend, we’ve actually had it since America has been a pluralist democracy. There’s always been a significant number of us who fell threatened by outsiders, science and change. Our internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese was grim evidence of the power of fear.

      • tor5

        Fair point, Art. We certainly all fall prey to selective memory. But to persist when confronted with indisputable evidence…? It gets to the point of being a little bizarre. Same with the country as a whole. How many presidents have stood in the face of mistakes and said “I take full responsibility”? That was something we expected and respected. I can’t imagine it happening today, though.

        • art thiel

          The first thing is to admit a mistake. That has yet to happen with the cornerback or the WH.

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    • Tman

      The irony is..our court appointed commander in chief is a draft dodger. Would somebody please tell him who, and when to salute.

      • art thiel

        He’d have to listen.

      • Brig Boring

        But you loved Bill Clinton who was worse than a draft dodger. And Obama who hated the military and law enforcement. You people have selective memories. You lost the election, get over it. The people chose the president, he wasn’t court appointed. Read a real newspaper.

        • Tman


  • wabubba67

    CTE would explain his downward trend…as would an overinflated ego. He’s lost perspective.

    • art thiel

      CTE includes a loss of cognitive brain function. That’s not Sherman. This is a personality issue.

      • John M

        Nice observations, Art. Thing is, success buys you credits. I’d rather have Sherman the way he is – and often he comes up with something interesting or goofy – rather than punching out somebody in a bar, smacking his wife or getting arrested for DUI. Sherman often raves about the obvious, a common human trait. And Pete and John have built a winning program with a team surprisingly absent of the jealousy and resentments common to the sport. So they should be held to account, but if you’ve been a Seahawk fan as long as I have you also know we ain’t never had so little frustration . . .

        • art thiel

          A rational line of thought, John. What caused Sherman to deny the facts, I can’t say. But to this point, there’s no connection between that and any diminished play.

          Teams have often won with eccentric personnel. Gary Payton, Randy Johnson and Marshawn Lynch, to name three.

          And for perspective, it’s good to remember the 2-14 year.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    Art, is it appropriate to talk to Pete Carroll about this? Is it appropriate for Sherman to be “counselled” by Carroll, or for you to ask Carroll’s opinion of Sherman? Because when it comes to matters of conscience and truthfulness and propriety, I would not call Carroll a shining paragon of virtue. Forgive me for not paying that much attention to the Seahawks, but wasn’t there something about illegal contact in practices and sanctions levied? And didn’t Carroll “conveniently” not remember to mention Sherman’s mid-season injury to the press or the NFL? And wasn’t there something that happened a few years ago down there in Southern California, comma, University Of?

    I’m just a casual Seahawks (and pro football) fan, but I know these things about Carroll. What example does he set for those who work closely with him and play for him? That might be part of the answer.

    • art thiel

      Carroll and others have disputed the facts about the USC sanctions (some of which are being unwound in court), and he admitted he screwed up the Sherman injury.

      Yes, it’s appropriate to talk to Carroll. He’s in charge.

      He’ll be asked about Richard Thursday in Indy.

  • Howie Seago

    Looking for the “like” button. Some good phrasing here.

    • art thiel

      That’s enough of a like for me, Hiowie.