He joked with linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was standing in the back, and then spent the next 18 minutes answering 24 questions about trade rumors, QB Russell Wilson and the state of the Seahawks’ locker room. There was plenty to digest, but one sentence had to stand out to coach Pete Carroll and the team’s brass.
“I might have gone over the top,” Sherman said, referring to a pair of sideline blowups directed at coaches last year.
The admission might not seem like much, but Sherman refused to offer that perspective six months ago after a Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Rams. During the game, Sherman got into a shouting match with Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on the sideline. Sherman was upset that the offense had attempted a pass from the Rams’ 1-yard line.
The play brought up bad memories of Seattle’s loss to the New England Patriotsin Super Bowl XLIX, which essentially ended with Wilson’s interception near the goal line late in the fourth quarter — a pass play that was run from the Patriots’ 1-yard line. After the Rams game, Sherman said repeatedly that he had no regrets and refused to apologize publicly, even though Carroll thought the cornerback was going to.
The uneasy situation hung over the team down the stretch last season. It was not the reason the Seahawks lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, but it didn’t help. After the season, Carroll said the blowups were his biggest regret from 2016. And Sherman’s actions were clearly a big reason why the team thought about trading him this offseason.
Whether Sherman is capable of moving on from last season and the Super Bowl loss remains to be seen. What happens if the Seahawks lose 17-6 to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1? What if Wilson throws a pick from the Green Bay 1-yard line? Will Sherman be able to contain himself?
Maybe. Maybe not. But his words Wednesday indicated that he’s at least making an effort.
In March, Carroll talked about Sherman’s rough 2016 season and said most of the cornerback’s issues were “self-inflicted.” Sherman was asked what he thought his coach meant.
“He means I hold myself to a high standard, and I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of player,” Sherman said. “So I’m competitive as all get-out. That’s what he means. He means I’m competitive as anybody out there, and at all times I’m competing. At all times I’m trying to win. At all times I’m trying to push the envelope and push the limits. And it has always been the case — publicly, privately and elsewhere. So that’s what he means. It’s never changed, it’s never wavered. At times it might have gotten kind of overblown. I might have gone over the top. But he understood where it was coming from, and so did my teammates.”
Whether the players realize it or not, this could be the last run with the current core group. Safety Kam Chancellor is entering the final year of his contract. And if the Seahawks considered trading Sherman this offseason, it’s possible that they’ll look to part ways with him next year, when he’ll turn 30.
The organization used four draft picks on defensive backs, signaling that a period of transition is coming at some point soon. It’s just a matter of when and how dramatic it will be.
Sherman’s every move this season will be analyzed and dissected. Carroll’s group of volatile players has made it to the divisional round of the playoffs in five straight seasons. Will they make another run, or will they implode? That will be the story of the 2017 season.
“It’s just a competitive team,” Sherman said. “And that’s why my teammates still ride with me. They’re still ride or die. Because good times and bad times, just like a family. Just like any other family. You’re going to have good times and bad times, but you show your true colors through the good and the bad. And they ride with me through the good and the bad, and I ride with them through the good and the bad because we’ve been there. We’re battle-tested.”