BY Art Thiel 04:17PM 04/05/2017

Seahawks try to show Sherman who’s boss

GM John Schneider refuses to take the nuclear option (a trade) off the table in order to coax back Richard Sherman. His brother, Branton, thinks Richard loves all the attention.

Richard Sherman (25) had his hands full in the Atlanta playoff game against Julio Jones, who scored a touchdown. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After he skipped his usual mid-week podium media session at Seahawks headquarters Dec. 28, CB Richard Sherman took some questions from reporters gathered around his locker at VMAC headquarters. Coach Pete Carroll earlier confirmed that an unplanned team meeting was held the previous week in part to address Sherman’s sideline tantrum during the Rams game that became national news.

Sherman was cordial and a little nervous, as well as vague when he was asked about the meeting.

“It was good,” Sherman said. “Just talked about the mood of the team, guys coming together. We have a kumbaya meeting just about every year. Just the same thing.”

He was asked about whether he planned to resume his weekly podium sessions, which until recently gave him a national forum to expound in his usual thoughtful, often amusing, way on league controversies and social issues, as well as dressing up as Harry Potter before Halloween.

“I’ll think about it,” he said. “It’s a privilege. Not everybody appreciates it. It’s a privilege (to have me) standing up there. You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”

Afterward, we witnesses debated a bit whether we felt privileged (the answer was no) and what his meaning was about being gone: Was something up regarding his future, or was he merely ruminating about retirement way down the road?

It wasn’t clear. But the Seahawks’ intentions became clearer Wednesday — get with the program, Sherm, or get gone.

During an interview on ESPN 710′s Brock and Salk show Wednesday morning, general manager John Schneider passed up the chance — again — to knock down rumors last month ahead of the scouting combine that the Seahawks have entertained trade offers for for their Pro Bowl defender.

“What you’ve seen lately in the news is real,” Schneider said. “That’s on both sides.’’

Schneider elaborated in a manner unusually candid for him, and GMs generally, regarding a player’s status.

“This isn’t a secret like this just came out of nowhere,” he said. “People find things out and we’re not going to lie to each other and we’re not going to BS each other. It’s going to be all laid out, and like I said, that doesn’t happen everywhere.

“We have open lines of communication between our coaching staff and our player personnel staff. It goes through player development, it goes through our sports science group. There’s a lot going on there.”

Schneider’s bluntness appeared to send a rare public signal to a player that the Seahawks will move him if they don’t see a commitment to avoid what Carroll recently called “self-inflicted” damage to his relationships with bosses and teammates.

In fact, the main audience for the public signal probably was teammates and others close to Sherman who value him as a talent and a person.

And it also conveniently serves to fuel the marketplace for Sherman, should Schneider and Carroll decide on the nuclear option.

Separately Wednesday, in an interview with NFL.com, Sherman’s older brother, Branton, who is also the business manager for the Richard Sherman Family Foundation, suggested that the latest round of drama may be a good thing.

“This is something that’s going to play positive on both ends — on the organization that is trying to regain its power, and on Richard,” he said. “They’re making it seem like they don’t need him. This is the same player that everyone doubted and denied, saying he’s too tall, too slow, his hips aren’t good enough, fifth-rounder. This is a new chip Richard is going to use.

“He’s going to be like, ‘You think you can trade me? I’m going to show you guys. That you would even talk about trading me . . . ‘ This is a new obstacle, mentally.”

Branton Sherman offered up something more telling, saying his brother told him, “I love this (expletive),” meaning the national attention and the doubts about him, which feeds his appetite for disrespect that has been his lifeblood.

Branton also said Richard has not lost sight of the good thing he has going in Seattle.

“He doesn’t want to leave behind that brotherhood,” Branton said. But if a trade is accepted, “That’s whatever it is. It’s a business deal.”

What does all this mean?

For Seattle as a sports city, a trade would not be on the same level as the Mariners’ 2000 trade of Ken Griffey Jr., but it would be right there with 1994 near-trade of Shawn Kemp (to the Bulls for Scottie Pippen) and the Mariners’ 1998 trade of Randy Johnson: Dealing rare, once-a-decade talents in their prime. A high-risk maneuver that will become a franchise turning point, one way or the other.

For the Seahawks, it would be getting rid of a franchise cornerstone while Super Bowl contention remains serious, and a savings of $23 million over the next two seasons. For a year at least, no rookie cornerback, no matter how gifted, could replicate Sherman’s value to the Legion of Boom. And no veteran corner could be acquired who would assimilate quickly into the Seahawks’ persnickety pass-coverage demands.

For Sherman, it would be leaving friends, steady success and a defined role for uncertainty. He would enjoy the challenge, but whether teammates and coaches who didn’t grow with him would be as tolerant of Sherman’s incessant need to be right is an open question.

As Charles de Gaulle once said, the graveyard is full of indispensable men.

Schneider sounded doubtful a deal would get done. Then again, why would he say otherwise, and risk Sherman’s irreversible alienation that would lower his market value?

“I don’t know if anything would ever happen,’’ Schneider said. Unfortunately, he was not asked whether he had a specific requirement for Sherman to meet regarding the team.

Any team punishment for Sherman’s 2016 in-game tirades, or his castigation of a member of the media, has not been made public. Somehow, “Don’t do that crap again,” seems a little flimsy, as it would to any eight-year-old who recklessly broke a window.

In December, when asked whether he had been punished, Sherman answered with his own questions.

“Did you see me get punished?”

No.

“Did you ask the coach?”

Yes.

“What did he say?”

He said it was internal.

“Cool.”

Subsequently, no diminishment of Sherman’s play in the season’s final three games was obvious. Just as obviously, no settlement has been reached in the off-season.

Branton Sherman did offer one element of his brother’s game that Sherman needs to re-acquire.

“The first three years, that grittiness level was way up there,” Branton said. “There was no patting (opponents) on the butt on the field. But when the years got on, he got to know guys, they started hanging out, going to the same events . . .  it changed.

“Now, you can be nice off the field. But once you get back on the field, it’s, ‘I don’t know you no more.’ I hope this brings him back to that gritty play. Let’s hope he gets back to that level.”

There’s lots of psychodrama going on here, but it’s also as simple as a game of chicken. The Seahawks want Sherman back, but not at the cost of running off the rails, which is where Sherman took them last season.


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YourThoughts

  • Topcatone

    I think Schneider and Carroll are one smart pair, and handle most player issues really well. I agree his “gritiness” was less this year. Now, he may well have been playing hurt (I hope so) but everyone could see he lost a crucial step this year, which does not work in his favor.

    • art thiel

      For what it’s worth Pro Football Focus graded him out 10th among starting CBs.

  • Tman

    Interesting you brought up the Randy Johnson trade. Randy pleaded with Woody Woodward to stay a Mariner..willing to take 5 mill a year. Woodward had a backup..a 21st century Vinegar Bend Mizell style fireballer, to replace johnson. The fireballer, can’t remember his name..never threw a pitch for the mariners.

    It seems Sherman threatening the reporter with his job (credential) didn’t sit well with the press.

    Does that even resemble the every day Sherman whose intellect and skill set are well above the NFL bar?
    Is this a good time for everyone to lighten up on the Sherman thing. We don’t want to trade Paradise for a parking lot do we?

    • SeaRaays

      I believe Gillick was the GM in 1998.

      • Tman

        I always gaive Woody too much credit. Didn’t the Mariners kick him upstairs? Is there a time in recent decades When woody wasn’t available through the Mariner switchboard?

        • 1coolguy

          Woodward was the jerk who blew off Johnson, as he thought Johnson’s back problems were going to get worse. No one is perfect, yet this episode was a tragedy.

          • tor5

            Yep, that’s how I remember it. Randy had a sore back and they thought he was done. Colossal misjudgment.

          • art thiel

            The sore back was convenient. They didn’t want to pay him, and new CEO Howard Lincoln didn’t like his prima-donna ways. Randy didn’t want to be here.

          • art thiel

            I think the final medical analysis was by Dr. Chuck Armstrong.

          • 1coolguy

            Yep, the lead on that M’s Ship of Fools. They had an unbeatable lineup and believed they were the smartest in the room. Ah, Hubris…………..

        • art thiel

          Woody did some scouting, never returned to the front office in an executive capacity.

          • Tman

            Thank you. The fireballing lefthander was the “little unit”, Ryan Anderson.

      • art thiel

        Woodward was GM through 99, Gillick from 2000-03.

  • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

    I suppose it would be a shame to lose him, but he lost me after his rant on Jim Moore, and the subsequent fake-news comment on ESPN essentially denying that the incident even happened. I’d always thought highly of Richard until he literally pulled the Trump card. I’ll cheer for the Hawks like I always have regardless of whether he’s here or not.

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    • art thiel

      That was a bad moment. Still don’t understand that one. He all knows we reporters were in the room, listening in a public forum.

  • 1coolguy

    As we have seen the following, the chances of the Hawks trading Sherm away are nil:
    - The lack of a dependable starter at the other corner. The other side is a rotating position and no true, front line corner has emerged.
    - Sherm is a shut down corner, one of maybe 5-8 in the entire league. There are 64 CB positions. You don’t trade the guy who shuts down EVERY teams’ #1 receiver.
    - This team has several leaders and Sherman is one of the top 5. He does not let receivers take a play off in practice and does not put up with any slack among the DB’s.
    I suggest the Hawks send Sherm to his alma mater, Stanford, for a few days to spend quality time with one of my most respected individuals, Thomas Sowell, to gain wisdom at this pivotal time in his development.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Sowell

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the tip. I know Sherman is eager to take advice from all of us.

      • 1coolguy

        Sure – Sherman could benefit. Who knows, he’s a smart guy, maybe he has met Sowell.

  • Paul Harmening

    Posturing. The lessor side is tire pumping his ego…as usual. The greater side are counting their chips. They both are protecting their territory, not willing to get in a cat fight just for the sake of proving anything. No dumb moves will be made here. .

    • art thiel

      “No dumb moves will be made.” That may be the first time I’ve read such a sentence.

      Where were you when Sherman was ranting on the sidelines?

  • StephenBody

    I’m glad this whole phony mini-controversy about Sherman is doing SOMEBODY some good. It’s certainly not helping the Seahawks tend to their business and it’s not helping a LOT of us fans who trust that Carroll and Schneider know how to handle player issues. And it’s not helping other players, who have to try to respond to ENDLESS questions about their teammate, whom they love, without appearing to take sides or legitimize the criticism. But as long as writers and radio people have fodder for columns and broadcasts, who cares about that other stuff, right? You guys have something that you can beat to a bloody froth, every day, and pander to a certain, sick, predisposed part of your readership that squats on the fence separating them from the teams, just DYING for a chance to pounce on anybody who sticks their head up. I heard “Dump Edgar” baloney on the radio DURING the season when he won the last of his batting titles. People were CLAMORING to release Shawn Alexander, during the very season he won the MVP. “He dosn’t move the pile!” Remember that little gemlet? I’ve even read impassioned screeds about how we should trade Russell Wilson while his trade value is high. I grew up as a University of Tennessee fan and watched that epic rivalry between UT and ‘Bama my whole life. It was VERY seldom as totally irrational as Seattle sports fans are daily. My question: Would ANY significant number of people still be obsessing with Sherman’s situation if you and Mike Salk and Mitch Levy and all the other ducklings were not nibbling this thing to death on a daily basis? I don’t think they would. I overheard a guy at Duke’s in Tacoma yesterday, saying how sick he is of listening to ESPN Seattle whip this story along, every morning. I know exactly how he feels…

    • tor5

      Yeah, this is all Art’s fault. And people like me, a “certain, sick, predisposed reader who squats on the fence separating me from the team.” Good one! I have to give you credit for such colorful pseudo-thoughtfulness, but your rambling seems to boil down to reporters not asking question (giving the team every opportunity to put this to rest) or not reporting the answers. And for fans to revel in your rationality as one who truly cares about and squats right there with the team. Funny, I thought this column was filled with insight, based on a mastery and embrace of the human drama of sport – the very thing that makes it interesting. I guess I should be more “rational” and think that I’m a fan who is actually ON the team.

    • art thiel

      Nothing phony about it. Sherman was a problem in 2016. Carroll had at least three one-on-ones with him, and it still isn’t resolved. He’s an important figure who brought the discussion upon himself. It wasn’t media-generated.

      You’ve written before about your contempt for media. You have at hand a simple solution: Don’t watch/read/listen/react.

      • wabubba67

        …and then vote for The Donald (too bad his first name isn’t Richard).

      • StephenBody

        You opened this forum. Was the idea that you would never have anyone who doesn’t agree with you participate? If so, that wasn’t very perceptive. I don’t have ANY contempot for media, having made my living in it for several decades. I have contempt for the current practice of self-appointed arbiters of our societal “needs” deciding that we can’t let the TEAM – which they are NOT a part of – handle the team’s business. All this lofty obervation on Sherman’s behavior and the “problem” it creates for the team is just impotent self-aggrandizement; a desire to try to be a part of something of which none of us is really any more than a fan of. NOTHING that I or Joe 12 or any radio host or print/internet commentator has to say about it changes anything about what will happen with Sherman. Sherman, Carroll, Schneider, and the Seahawks players have been squirming and carefully NOT commenting on this for months, now, and have steadfastly refused to offer any explanations. When Schneider said “This is real”, that was the FIRST solid bit of comment from anyone with the Seahawks…but the story has CONSUMED the internet and airwave, so…what was driving the talk and controversy? IT wasn’t media comentators? Then who was it? I don’t hear ANYTHING about it in spirts bars and in public, except for the occasional remark about how tedious the talk has become.

        I care passionately about Richard Sherman and have been a Seahawks season ticket holder for fourteen years, now. I have also been a devoted reader of yours for 25 years and agree with you about 90% ofthe time but that doesn’t mean I don’t think you occasionally get full of yourself. I don’t want Sherman gone but I also don’t want to listen to it, anymore. IT’S BORING and pointless. What will happen will happen and nothing written here or said on KJR is going to move the needle at all. Meanwhile, we get scant news of anything else about the Seahawks and Mariners news gets shoved aside and even the NCAA tournament got put on occasional hold – with an in-state team IN THE FINALS! – while we debated whether Sherman was causing a disruption. Today, the guys on ESPN seized upon a rumor that Sherman had asked for a trade and we’re off to the races again. There has been ALMOST as much talk about this as there was about UW in the football Final Four and the other Seahawks news combined. WHEN is enough enough?

        Get pissy about it if you want. The simple fact is that this is going to play itself out, something will get done, and all this discussion is just hot air.

        • art thiel

          The mere fact that the site is open to civil discourse and that I try to respond to readers, agree or disagree, tells you that your “not very perceptive” remark is illogical.

          Regarding “needs,” there is nothing about spectator sports that qualifies as a “need.” It is a want. An amusement, usually created with public funding, and open to public praise or criticism, as are many things in civic life. Opinions of fans and media regarding personnel moves by the team is part of the lifeblood of spectator sports. Whether they move a needle is immaterial. Nothing I’ve read/heard in media say Carroll/Schneider or Sherman are bad or crazy people. But the sides appear to be on the verge of doing something that will significantly impact the team.

          That. Is. Newsworthy.

          Since you’re a big fan of Sherman, I get that this development is distressing, and you don’t want to hear more about it until it does or does not happen. That’s why I suggested you tune out. Instead you chose to vent to me and readers of the site in a misguided shot at the messengers and not the perpetrators.

          Stephen, you know that all stories have a beginning, middle and end. Daily news sites like this one attempt to report on developments as they happen. If it so bothers you, just step away from it until it’s over.

      • StephenBody

        And, BTW, the oldest dodge in the world is “Well, he did it! If he hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t be talking about it!” Yeah, Sherman did ALL that stuff. But HE didn’t make you guys run it into the ground.

        • art thiel

          By anyone’s reckoning besides yours, this is one of the biggest storylines in the NFL off-season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday that it was Sherman who asked for the trade. Unsurprisingly, 31 other teams would like to know more. This is not rumor-chasing, as Schneider acknowledged. It is news.

          • StephenBody

            Well, Art, it’s your website. Do what rings your bell. But, as one long-time fan to you, it’s tiresome and ultimately feckless. Whatever any of you says here or on air changes NOTHING. But, you already know that.

          • art thiel

            Who said I was out to change something? I report and comment on news and newsmakers. It’s the newsmakers who change things. Yes, they are aware of what’s being said and written, but they are paid well to make decisions in the best interests of the franchise. I’m confident that Schneider and Carroll believe they will do that.

            Whether it was the “right” decision becomes fodder for speculation by media and fans, which is neither a bad nor a good thing, but part of why sports works so well as a business. People care. Like you.

  • Ken S.

    The old adage that no player is bigger than the game has me wondering how Sherman views himself in contrast to football. He is a big cog in the Seahawks defense – no doubt about that. Sherman’s problem is he may well believe all those press clippings about himself.

    Can he manage to shoehorn his ego back into his normal sized skull? We can only hope. If not then he should hit the road. Griffey is THE poster-boy for clubhouse troublemakers IMO – we don’t need the problems that super-star players often provide. The Hawks certainly would miss him, as would I. But no player is bigger than football itself.

    I find myself watching college ball more and pro ball less.

    All I gotta say is GO HUSKIES & ZAGS! They each had a wonderful season. Maybe they’ll come back next year and win it all.

    • art thiel

      Actually, the “ego problems” you reference are part and parcel of nearly every team in nearly every sport. And dare I say, in every workplace/school/artist hangout/retirement home.

      Superstars often come with baggage, and club/fans have to deal in order to get to championships.

  • Bruce McDermott

    The Hawks may have already gone too far to keep him, as a practical matter, if any team gets even close to what the Hawks want.

    • art thiel

      You mean in Schneider/Carroll’s rhetoric?

  • rosetta_stoned

    Latest reports indicate it was Sherman who wanted out first.

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