By Matthew Asher
CBS Local Sports presents 32 Players in 32 Days, a daily feature focusing on one impact player from each NFL team.
Richard Kevin Sherman – Cornerback – #25
Weight: 195 lbs.
Hometown: Compton, CA
Experience: 3 years (5th round pick in 2011 NFL Draft)
Just like with the drafting of Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks have found another franchise cornerstone with their fifth-round selection of All-Pro cornerback (and Madden NFL 15 cover athlete) Richard Sherman. He’s only been in the league for three seasons, but he is considered one of the best defensive backs in the game today, and signing a $57.5 million contract extension goes a long way to helping that claim. Skills like that are what allow Sherman to occasionally run his mouth, like his insults on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the 2014 NFC title game.
But before he came to national prominence by insulting Crabtree, he was a standout high school athlete at Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton, where he competed in both football and track and field. As a two-way player, Sherman finished his senior season (in which Dominguez High won the CIF Southern Section Division III title) with 1,030 all-purpose yards with 890 coming as a wide receiver and three punt returns for touchdowns. On the defensive side, Sherman recorded 45 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception.
Sherman decided to attend Stanford (he was his high school’s salutatorian, so you know he’s smart) and started off his college career as a wide receiver. As a freshman in 2006, Sherman led the Cardinal in receiving and was named a Freshman All-American. He continued to play wide receiver his sophomore and junior seasons, but only played the first four games of his junior year before suffering from a season-ending knee injury.
When he returned, Sherman switched from wide receiver to cornerback. It was a smart move, as Sherman recorded 112 tackles and six interceptions in his final two years at Stanford and helped lead the Cardinal to a 12-1 record in 2010, the school’s best football record which also included their first ever BCS bowl victory, winning the Orange Bowl.
The Seattle Seahawks drafted Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 154th overall pick. Even though he only started 10 games his rookie season, Sherman led all rookies with 16 defended passes and four interceptions to go along with his 55 tackles. For his efforts, Sherman was selected to the PFWA (Pro Football Writers of America) All-Rookie Team.
It was his sophomore campaign that Sherman started to gain notoriety for his off-field antics. Before Seattle’s Week 8 game against the Detroit Lions, Sherman nicknamed himself Optimus Prime, the mortal enemy of Megatron, the nickname of Lions wide-receiver Calvin Johnson. While Johnson would finish that season with an NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards, against Sherman, he was limited to just three catches for only 46 yards. Sherman ended up getting snubbed as a Pro Bowl selection in 2012, but he was selected to the AP’s NFL All-Pro First Team, a much more selective award.
In 2013, Sherman was the de-facto leader of the Legion of Boom, which includes Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner and Byron Maxwell (who replaced Browner following his suspension). Seattle’s secondary allowed the fewest passing yards as well as the most interceptions in the NFL the same season. Sherman led the NFL with eight of the interceptions. For their efforts, Sherman and Thomas were named to the All-Pro First Team while Chancellor was named to the Second Team. All three men were selected to the Pro Bowl.
Of course, all that hard work would be for nothing if they didn’t finish the season on a high note. In the Super Bowl against the top passing offense in the NFL, Seattle destroyed the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos 43-8, which included two interceptions and two forced fumbles en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.
It was after the game that Sherman showed he wasn’t simply a loudmouth who had been criticized over his comments made about Crabtree in the previous game. The day following the Super Bowl victory on ESPN’s Mike and Mike talk radio show, Sherman had nothing but praise for Peyton Manning, saying, “He’s a Hall of Fame player, he’s a living legend, he’s a record-holding quarterback, he’s a Super Bowl champion, he’s been a Super Bowl MVP.” He even took to Twitter to ask his followers to not bash Manning, tweeting: “There is no reason to bash him on here please Seattle let’s just enjoy this one!!!! He is still a future HOF player.”
So with the Lombardi Trophy still in Seattle, Sherman and company have a lot of work ahead of them if they want a repeat of last season’s success. With Sherman’s talent, there’s no reason to think last year was an aberration. If Seattle keeps healthy, there’s no reason they can’t be a dynasty in the making.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.