Sports

The real Richard Sherman: Seahawks star proves he's more than just a trash-talker

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman was in Federal Way Tuesday night to give school supplies and clothes to 125 inner-city and foster kids through his foundation, Blanket Coverage. The event took place at The Commons mall.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Outside of Seattle, Richard Sherman is seen as just another loudmouth, me-first, spoiled rotten professional athlete.

The Seahawks cornerback flaps his gums before games, during games and after games. All day, every day. And most of the "talk" centers on how good he is or how bad his opponent is.

The talk makes Sherman look like a boastful jerk to a lot of football fans. He even danced with the cheerleaders Sunday after intercepting a pass during the Seahawks' 29-3 destruction of the San Francisco 49ers.

But people outside of Seattle don't know the real Richard Sherman. They don't know that he relishes the role of the villain on the football field. His talent as a cornerback is motivated by his non-stop trash-talk.

And the motivation is working. Last year, Sherman led the Seahawks in interceptions (eight) and the NFL in passes defended (24). He received more votes for the All-Pro team than any defensive back in the league.

But, for as much time as he spends running his mouth, Sherman spends even more times helping people not as fortunate as he is.

That was more than evident Tuesday evening inside The Commons mall in Federal Way. Earlier this year, Sherman launched his own charitable nonprofit, Blanket Coverage — The Richard Sherman Family Foundation. Its mission is to level the playing field for school-age children who have a strong combination of potential, goals and a desire to make the most of their education.

Sherman and his foundation handed out school clothes and supplies Tuesday to children from the inner-city and those in foster care. The kids were dressed in a sea of blue and neon green.

The only talking Sherman was doing inside the mall was encouraging the so-called at-risk youth to use the school supplies he was giving them. He told every kid he greeted that the school supplies and clothes weren't a "donation, but an investment in you as a person."

Sherman launched Blanket Coverage in July with The Richard Sherman Celebrity Softball Game at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium. The game drew more than 7,000 people, who saw guys like Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Owens, among others. The event raised more than $40,000.

That charitable work continued Tuesday in Federal Way when Blanket Coverage, along with Macy's and Poulsbo RV, handed out bags of school supplies and clothes.

What became evident inside The Commons is that Sherman doesn't just like talking on the football field. He is more than willing to talk to anyone in front of him, whether it's a 10-year-old kid or a 60-year-old grandmother.

There is a method to Sherman's madness. He isn't talking just to talk. Sherman is talking because he is very, very good at it. The best.

On the football field, Sherman's talking not only gets in the heads of the opposing players and coaches, but it also fuels his fire to be the best cornerback in the National Football League.

Sherman even trashed-talked the untouchable Tom Brady last season with the infamous line, "You mad, Bro?" He engaged in a Twitter battle with Darrelle Revis, who was known as the NFL's best cornerback before Sherman came on the scene.

Sherman also went on ESPN 2's "First Take" television show and got into a contentious debate where he told host Skip Bayless that he was "gonna crush you on here, in front of everybody. I'm better at life than you."

The controversy continued when Sherman test positive for Adderall last season. The suspension for taking the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) drug was eventually overturned on an appeal when the hearing officer ruled that Sherman's urine sample had been contaminated during the chain of custody.

Following the incident, Sherman made headlines when he reportedly told a newspaper that half the NFL takes Adderall, a banned substance.

Sherman's "talking" ability is even more evident off the field. A lot of athletes have gotten a bad rap, and some of them rightly so, for not being able to put together a sentence. They speak with way too many "ummms" and "you knows."

Sherman is not like that at all. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has a presence about him — a presence that successful people have. When Richard Sherman walks into a room, you know he's in the room. Doesn't matter if you see him or not. You know he's there.

Sherman hails from the "mean" streets of Compton, Calif., a South Central Los Angeles suburb that was made famous by the rap group NWA and the movie "Boyz 'n the Hood." Compton is known more for drive-by shootings than honor society students.

Sherman was the latter. He was a straight-A student at Compton's Dominguez High School, graduating as the No. 2-ranked student in his class. He inked a national letter of intent to play football at the most prestigious academic institution west of the Mississippi — Stanford University — which is still one of the proudest moments of his life.

"It was unbelievable," Sherman told the Federal Way Mirror about signing with Stanford. "It was a great accomplishment for me and my family. It was a great symbol for people from where I'm from."

That's what drives Sherman for both the Seahawks and Blanket Coverage. He loves bucking the trend. A kid who grows up in Compton isn't supposed to graduate with a degree in communications from Stanford, and a fifth-round draft pick isn't supposed to turn into the best cornerback in the NFL.

But that's exactly what Sherman has done. He thanks his parents for instilling that workmanlike attitude of being the best at everything he does.

His father, Kevin, rose daily at 4 a.m. to drive a garbage truck — and still does today. His mother, Beverly, works with disabled kids in the inner city and preaches the value of education.

Kevin and Beverly Sherman developed his attitude of giving back to the community, which the cornerback did Tuesday in Federal Way.

"Where I'm from, the inner city, there are a lot of kids that have gone astray," Sherman said. "The main reason they did that is they didn't have the things they needed to succeed. Stuff like school supplies and school clothes. All they need is an opportunity. That's what I'm trying to give them. … I just want to give back."

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