Sports

The tip. “U mad bro?”: Richard Sherman’s five greatest moments among Seahawks’ best ever

Seahawks then-second-year cornerback Richard Sherman gets into the face of New England championship quarterback Tom Brady after Sherman intercepted him and upstart Seattle beat Brady’s Patriots 24-23 on Oct. 14, 2012, at CenturyLink Field.
Seahawks then-second-year cornerback Richard Sherman gets into the face of New England championship quarterback Tom Brady after Sherman intercepted him and upstart Seattle beat Brady’s Patriots 24-23 on Oct. 14, 2012, at CenturyLink Field. Associated Press

Richard Sherman has said goodbye to Seattle.

The Seahawks waiving their three-time All-Pro cornerback and superstar persona is absolutely the end of an era.

One Seattle sports will never see again.

Friday’s cost-cutting move ends seven years encompassing the most important, entertaining and unusual moments in Seattle sports history.

Or do you know of another Northwest superstar who mocked the league that helped pay him $48 million, taunted just about every opponent he ever saw, screamed at and got in the faces of his coaches on the sideline during games, mocked a rival (the San Francisco 49ers’) fan base as “mediocre” after his team beat theirs, dressed up in Harry Potter costumes in press conferences--all the while as the best at his position, in the same years his team was the best it’s ever been?

Me, neither.

Here are Sherman’s top five, signature moments as a Seahawk:

5. Woofin’ on day one: When, where and how it all began: Oct. 30, 2011 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Sherman’s first start at left cornerback. Sherman against Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green. Green was a rookie--and a royal one: the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Georgia. He was in the first of what would become seven Pro Bowl seasons.

Sherman was a converted college wide receiver from Stanford with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rainier. He was still seething over being passed over for days in that year’s draft until the Seahawks took him in the fifth round, 150 selections after the Bengals drafted Green.

Sherman intercepted a pass Andy Dalton intended to throw to Green--then got up stomping and barking in Green’s face. He tipped another pass Seahawks teammate Kam Chancellor intercepted. Green had four catches for 63 yards that day, 43 of which came when he beat then-second-year free safety Earl Thomas for a touchdown.

After the game Sherman said of Green: “He’s probably one of the most overrated receivers out there. He wasn’t anything special. Dalton is a good quarterback, he makes good decisions. But A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes.”

Sherman woofin’ at a star, after game one. After he and the Seahawks lost by 22 points. He had arrived--in his unique way.

4. Biting the hand that (sort of) feeds him: A member of the NFL Players’ Association’s executive council for years, Sherman rarely missed a chance to rail against the league for rules, penalties, player punishments, policies off the field--you name it.

Last year he called out the league’s system for publicly reporting injuries as solely “for the gamblers.”

On Nov. 25, 2014, at the height of their heyday in between the defending-champion Seahawks appearing in consecutive Super Bowls, Sherman enlisted his great friend and Seahawks plus Stanford teammate Doug Baldwin to mock the NFL’s policies on media and marketing relations after the league fined teammate Marshawn Lynch for not talking to reporters.

Make that, Sherman enlisted a cardboard cutout of Baldwin.

“It’s a little bit hypocritical,” Sherman said, in a mocking tone. “Seems like we are in a league where we don’t want you to endorse any alcohol: ‘Please don’t endorse any alcohol. No DUIs, please.’ But yet a beer sponsor is their biggest sponsor (Anheuser-Busch). ... Very interesting.

“They’ve been talking about players’ safety so much. And it’s like, two games in five days (regarding a Thursday night game after Sunday games each team must play each season) doesn’t seem like you care about players’ safety. You know, it’s a little bit much for me.”

It proved to be Seahawks tenure-ending, in fact. Sherman ruptured his Achilles in a Thursday night game in Arizona following a Sunday game, this past November. That’s the last game he played for Seattle.

The video of Sherman mocking the NFL with Baldwin remains the most-watched YouTube news one The News Tribune has ever produced. It has more than 1.85 million views.

In fact, three of the top 10 and six of top 16 most-watched TNT news videos all time on YouTube are of Sherman talking. About black-on-black violence. Michael Bennett. Killings in our society. Colin Kaepernick. 49ers fans.

3. Which is harder: football, or quidditch?

In October 2016, just before Halloween, Sherman entered the main auditorium at Seahawks headquarters in Renton for his weekly press conference wearing a long, black Gryffindor robe, maroon trim, a maroon tie with gold, diagonal stripes, black-rimmed eye glasses and waving a wand.

He went full Harry Potter, theme music on his phone and all, three days after what should be feat 2a. on this list: playing all 95 plays of an overtime tie at Arizona and shaking and being unable to walk from dehydration and exhaustion.

“I’m a wizard!” Sherman announced.

“It is Halloween. My son (then age 2) told me he wanted to me to wear something. So, it’s happening.”

(Mostly) keeping a straight face, Sherman was asked that day which is harder, football or quidditch?

“Five quarters of football is tough,” he said. “But quidditch, the beaters, the chasers, trying to find the ‘Golden Snitch,’ things like that? That’s tough.

“When you are a wizard, like we are, sometimes you have to show it to the muggles out there in the world. Earl Thomas does some magical things. Michael Bennett is ‘Black Santa’ -- but he’s also a wizard.”

2. “You mad bro?”

By Sherman’s second season, 2012, he was a full-time starter in the Seahawks’ secondary. Tom Brady was in his 12th season as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, a three-time Super Bowl champion and a two-time league MVP.

Brady and the Patriots came to Seattle to face the Seahawks in October, 2012. Sherman had an interception of Brady while he and Earl Thomas woofed back and forth with the legend all day. The Seahawks ended up winning 24-23 on a rainy, milestone day at CenturyLink Field.

After the game, Sherman said of his then-upstart Seahawks compared to the champion Patriots: “We're built for a heavyweight fight. I don't think they're built for a heavyweight fight.”

Then Sherman posted on Twitter this epic picture and photo below, from him walking off the field and going up to Brady following the win. The caption is what Sherman said he asked Brady.

It became a tag line, eventually a Sports Illustrated cover title--and the start of the “Legion of Boom.” The Seahawks began their five consecutive playoff appearances, two consecutive Super Bowl seasons and run to Seattle’s first and only NFL title.

1. The tip.

By the end of the 2013 season Sherman and the Seahawks were on the cusp of becoming elite for the first time. Sherman led the NFL in interceptions with eight in that year, and had 16 over two seasons.

On Jan. 19, 2014, Colin Kaepernick, Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers came to top-seeded Seattle for the NFC championship. It really turned out to be that season’s Super Bowl. An intense, smash-mouth, thrilling game came down to the Seahawks trying to hold onto a 23-17 lead in the final seconds.

Kaepernick lofted a pass into the back right of the south end zone at CenturyLink Field, to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was about to catch the ball to win the NFC title for San Francisco and send the Niners to Super Bowl 48. But Sherman leaped as high as he ever did for the Seahawks. He got his left hand on the pass and tipped it back to teammate Malcolm Smith for the interception in the end zone.

Seattle won and went to the Super Bowl instead, where it destroyed record-breaking Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8 for Seattle’s only Lombardi Trophy.

I was sitting near the top the Kingdome, way above third base, in October 1995 when Edgar Martinez’ double scored Ken Griffey Jr. from first base to send the Mariners over the hated New York Yankees in the playoffs and into Seattle’s first American League Championship Series, during the Mariners’ “Refuse to Lose” season. That was the only other time I’ve felt a building shake with thunderous noise anywhere close to what I felt from inside CenturyLink Field press box the instant Sherman tipped that pass to send the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl.

After the game, Sherman became even more of a national lightning rod than he already was, thanks to an unforgettable interview with Erin Andrews on the field that FOX television aired live.

In Seattle that night, he was immortalized.

Now, after Friday’s era-ending release, he’s one free-agent signing away from using that chip on his shoulder for someone else.

And, potentially and at one time unfathomably, against the Seahawks.

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