If it is anything representing the NFL — its officiating, rules, commissioner, television ratings, heck, maybe even the logo — Richard Sherman is against it.
He is absolutely, articulately, not-afraid-of-repercussions against the league.
The Seahawks’ three-time All-Pro cornerback said Thursday his team heard back from the NFL on two pick plays by Saints wide receiver Willie Snead this past Sunday. Sherman said the league told the Seahawks: Sorry, that officials were wrong to not flag both Saints picks.
As Sherman put it: “We probably lead the league in NFL apologies: ‘Oh, that was a pick route, that was a pick route. It should have been called. That should have been called. Yeah, it might have cost you the game, but so what? It’s too late now.’ ”
Sherman then shrugged.
Snead’s first downfield block of Seattle defensive back Jeremy Lane into the middle of the end zone Sunday cleared a path for New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown on third and goal in the fourth quarter. The second block by Snead of Lane, well beyond the 1-yard buffer zone along the line of scrimmage where such blocking is legal, resulted in the Saints’ key first down for 20 yards on third down and their final points on a field goal in the final 2 minutes of Seattle’s 25-20 loss.
Sherman and teammate DeShawn Shead said the league also apologized for Shead’s penalty for defensive holding on third down in the third quarter. That extended a Saints drive to a field goal.
“They said that wasn’t a good call, at all,” Shead said.
“It sucks, because it doesn’t matter now. We knew it was a bad call then. … After we turn it in they tell us it was a bad call. I mean, it gives us reassurance — but it wasn’t called in the game.”
Sherman elaborated. Shocker.
“They said DeShawn Shead’s was some of the best coverage they’d seen and, no, that shouldn’t have been a flag,” he said.
This, of course, isn’t the first time Sherman has gone off on the league. There was his skit with teammate Doug Baldwin last year mocking the hypocrisy of NFL media and advertising policies and customs.
In the Superdome locker room minutes following Sunday’s loss at New Orleans, Sherman called the officiating “egregious.”
And Sherman degrading commissioner Roger Goodell for doing a terrible job is a regular narrative. He repeated it Thursday.
“It’s the truth: He hasn’t done a great job. It’s obvious,” Sherman said. “For us to say he hasn’t done a great job is kind of beating a dead horse.”
Asked Thursday if he’s ever been fined by the NFL for what he’s said, Sherman said “No.”
Is he surprised at that?
“Not really,” he said. “This is basically reality TV. I guess I’m good for ratings, probably.”
Speaking of ratings, those for primetime games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights were down 21 percent at the end of October.
Sherman, a member of the players’ union’s executive council, thinks the NFL is ruining the game for its viewers.
“Every other league you see players have a good time,” he said, mentioning specifically the NBA. “It’s a game. This isn’t politics. This isn’t justice. This is entertainment and they’re no longer allowing the players to entertain. They’re no longer allowing the players to show any personality.
“Any kind of uniqueness, any kind of individuality because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging.”
Sherman said the officials wanted to control Sunday’s game in New Orleans, too — against the Seahawks.
“Sometimes it’s incidental. It’s small. It’s deceptive. Most people can’t catch it,” he said. “But this game, it was so obvious when one of the worst-penalized teams in the league didn’t get a penalty — other than an obvious false start that they didn’t want to call.”
Seattle had 11 penalties. New Orleans had two. The Saints entered averaging 7.5 flags per game, one of the league’s more flagged teams.
Sherman went on. He talked about how “ridiculous” illegal-contact penalties on cover guys are, when much of the time all a receiver has to do is initiate contact with a defensive back to draw a flag and automatic first down for the offense.
“(Receivers) can literally run into you at any point on the field (past 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) and get that call,” Sherman said. “All you’ve got to do is initiate the contact. Fourth and 55, then you’ve got a first down.
“It makes it difficult to play defense, because now they know the rules and they can manipulate the rules — and the refs see what they think they see.”
So, if Sherman had his Elder Wand again from his Harry Potter press-conference costume last week, what would he magically change about his league?
“Make the rule book a lot less extensive. You have a bunch of rocket scientists writing the rules, I guess, for a simple game,” he said. “Like I’ve said before, they always say they ask players and coaches about rules, but they really don’t take what they say into account, obviously. The game is entirely too difficult to officiate to be written by coaches and players, to be influenced by coaches and players.
“This game would be a lot more simplified for the refs. Obvious calls would have to be made if it affects a play. Earl Thomas got called for illegal contact on a play (in New Orleans) where he just pretty much ran the route for the receiver. And then you don’t get called when a receiver just blocks a dude in the end zone to the ground. You’ve got to simplify it. You’ve got to give them less things to watch …”
He was asked for potential reasons for the Seahawks being 15-3-1 in primetime games under coach Pete Carroll entering Monday night’s home game against Buffalo. Even then, Sherman circled back to the officiating.
He said talent has won out in those primetime games, that the league doesn’t want the officials to control the outcomes of those games because there are “too many people watching in prime time. They don’t want to make it obvious.”
Sherman said “perhaps” all his criticism of Goodell leads to the league having it out for the Seahawks. Seattle has reached four consecutive postseasons and two of the past three Super Bowls, winning one, and Sherman said maybe the NFL is using slanted officiating to “even out” his team’s success.
“But,” he said, “cheating is cheating.”
And railing is railing.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor missed another practice and may miss his fourth consecutive game Monday with a pulled groin Carroll has described as
Carroll said Chancellor had a setback trying to test the injury a couple weeks ago.
BENNETT’S KNEE SURGERY A SUCCESS
Michael Bennett’s arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in Los Angeles Wednesday was a success, Carroll said.
“Exactly as expected. That will allow us to be optimistic about it, three weeks-type of window maybe (to return), and we’ll see if he’s able to pull it off,” Carroll said. “We’ll be very fortunate if he does, but that’s kind of what we’re shooting for.”
Fellow defensive end Cliff Avril said Bennett was FaceTiming with him within 20 minutes of coming out of surgery.
And, get this: Avril said the loquacious, outspoken Bennett actually talks MORE while under the effects of anesthesia.
The Seahawks still list starting quarterback Russell Wilson with his sprained knee and a pectoral-muscle injury on his right side. But he was a full participant in practice Thursday, and will start for the 82nd consecutive time to begin his career on Monday. … Starting defensive tackle Tony McDaniel is OK after twisting his knee last weekend and leaving the Saints game. McDaniel fully practiced two days after giving a thumbs up when asked about his ankle. … Carroll said TE Luke Willson “is really close” to returning from a knee scope late last month. The No. 2 tight end missed practice again Thursday, but Carroll said “we’re pretty optimistic” Willson can return Monday night.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle