NEWARK, N.J. -- Orchestrated or not – and even Richard Sherman hinted it may have been -- the Seahawks’ all-pro cornerback’s tirade immediately following the NFC Championship game victory over the 49ers made him the most popular player at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday.
The throng of reporters and cameramen surrounding Sherman far outnumbered that of everyone else – including Peyton Manning – and Sherman – who started his session nearly 10 minutes before the rest of his teammates -- didn’t disappoint.
He was gregarious and affable. He answered every question and obliged every request – even stepping off the podium at one point to hug a 75-year-old woman who asked him to. He fist-bumped kids … he was, well, charming.
And while he admits most of the nation is hoping he falls flat on his face on Sunday, Sherman clearly proved Tuesday that first impressions may not be lasting ones in his case.
“Last week I felt like I regretted just attacking a man – attacking it and taking away from my teammates,” he said of the infamous postgame interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews. “You never want to talk down on a man to build yourself up and things like that. So I regretted that, and I regretted taking that attention away from my teammates. That’s the one thing that I wish I could do again.”
Sherman admittedly plays with an edge. It’s a mindset that has allowed him to go from unheralded fifth-round pick to a two-time all-pro.
"I think it does help to have a certain attitude and a certain mindset about your opponent, especially playing defender and playing corner and being out there on an island," Sherman said."(Teammate) Kam Chancellor calls it 'the dark place' and he has a really dark place where he goes, and I don't really want to go there.
"I go somewhere where there's a lot of animosity, there's a lot of frustration, there's a lot of focus … and I pull from that place when I need to."
He just wishes he had more time to shut it down before his interview with Andrews.
"I think if I had more time after the game to think things over, it would have been better articulated, obviously,” he said. “A lot lower tone, lower volume, it would have been a clearer and more concise message and I think the criticism would have been less."
Sherman, who graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA and received a communications degree from Stanford, clearly does not want to be defined by the tirade.
“Because I think kids need a positive role model, and they need to understand that there are more options to the world than what they just see in their neighborhood,” he said. “Especially the kids in the inner-city. They need to understand that there’s another opportunity, there’s another path that you can take, and I think if those kids take those paths and use those opportunities, they’ll benefit and our future will be very bright.”
The highlight of Sherman’s entertaining session may have been this exchange between Sherman and a woman with an obvious agenda:
Question: “As far as money is concerned, all of you football guys has gone into the strip clubs and are raining [money] down on the strippers. I think that’s a bad example for our young ladies. How can we stop that? I think it’s a bad example that we setting for our young girls that they need to be strippers. How do we deal with that issue?”
Sherman: “Well, I’ve never gone into a strip club and thrown money, so I couldn’t tell you. I guess trying to understand that there are other avenues, there are other ways you can make money, that women can do anything they want in this world. You can go out there and be a CEO of a company. Like I said before, the same can be said for kids in the inner city — the ceiling is limitless and don’t limit yourself to those possibilities and those circumstances.”
Still think Richard Sherman is the worst man on the planet?
Denver linebacker Shaun Phillips was born in Philly before moving to Willingboro as a child. His pride in the New Jersey Super Bowl was apparent.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “This is where I started playing football. I didn’t even touch a football until I was in 9th grade. I grew up in Philadelphia and when I moved to Jersey that’s when I first tried football. It’s pretty much where it all started for me.”
Phillips, who once had nine sacks for Willingboro in a game against Camden, said he missed the camaraderie among his high school teammates.
“We had a tight-knit bond; we made it almost like a fraternity, so therefore that’s what I miss the most,” he said. “A lot of those guys I still talk to. I just miss the camaraderie with my teammates.”
On Monday, former Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he was strongly leaning toward retiring if the Broncos won the Super Bowl. On Tuesday, well …
“They misunderstood what I was saying,” he said. “What I was saying is that I got a one-year contract. There are many times that I’ve seen a guy get a one-year deal, and it doesn’t pan out and that’s it. So you have to think about life after football. That motivates you to go out and play hard. I’m not thinking about retiring in terms of giving up.”
Rodgers-Cromartie did say that he didn’t consider Sherman the top corner in the business.
“To say he’s one of the best – he goes out there and he proves it,” he said. “As a cornerback, you’ve got to have that mentality. When that ball goes over the top of your head, everyone sees that. As far as being ‘the best', I wouldn’t say that. As long as you have a Champ Bailey or Asante Samuel or Charles Woodson still in this game, you can’t say you are the best.”
Of course, he can always say he was misunderstood on Wednesday.
Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch hinted he would not attend the mandatory media day session and was threatened with a $100,000 fine if he was a no-show. Lynch relented … to a point.
The bruising back made a brief appearance Tuesday – ESPN reported it was a mere 6 minutes and 20 seconds of his required hour – before walking away from reporters at the Prudential Center.
In a brief interview with the NFL Network, Lynch said that media day, “ain’t my thing.”
The NFL Network reported that Lynch would not be fined.
Some of the dumber questions of the day included:
“Which one of your teammates cheats on his wife the most?”
“What would you say to Justin Bieber?”
“Who on the team has the hottest wife?”
“Do you consider this a must-win game?”
“What’s the Roman Numeral for 48?”
To Peyton Manning: “Will you be making an appearance on Saturday Night Live this week?” Super Bowl XLVIII is the following day.