RENTON, Wash. — Sure, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Wednesday, if he had to do it over again he might change some of what happened in the aftermath of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game victory over the 49ers.
What he said he won’t change, though, is who he is.
In his first comments to the media at-large since controversy erupted over his postgame interview with Erin Andrews of FOX Sports, as well as later comments in a news conference, Sherman said he regretted taking attention away from the accomplishments of the Seahawks. Especially considering the overwhelming reaction his comments received on social media and elsewhere, which he said he didn’t expect.
“Yeah, I’m really surprised by that (the reaction),” he said. “If I were to really have known it was going to blow up like that, I probably would’ve approached it differently — just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates’ great games. . . . So many people played so many great games that you would think the stories would be about them. And so that’s the only thing I feel kind of regretful about.”
Sherman spoke in a wide-ranging news conference that lasted 20 minutes in front of a Super Bowl-sized contingent of reporters and TV cameras. He said of his postgame comments, “maybe it was misdirected, maybe things may have been immature, things could’ve been worded better. But this was on a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes or doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game. I didn’t have time to sit there and contemplate, . . . ‘What am I going to say?’ “
If he has something to say next time, though, he said he’ll remain unafraid to say it.
“I really don’t know how to be anyone else,” he said. “I can only be myself. I’ll obviously learn from my mistakes and try to do it better, word situations like that better, and be more mature about the situation and understand the moment. But you can’t be anybody else. You can’t make things up now. It’s gotten us this far, and it’d be hard to be somebody else. I can only be myself.”
Teammates rushed to Sherman’s defense.
“He plays the game of football with tons of passion, tons of fire,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “So we are on to the Super Bowl, and it’s one of those things, he just got excited. I know he apologized for the distractions and all that, but he’s one of those people who is always focused on how he can improve and help our football team. He’s a great teammate.”
Sherman was interviewed by FOX immediately after the game, which was decided when he tipped a pass intended for 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith for an interception with 22 seconds left that sealed Seattle’s 23-17 win.
Sherman was penalized for taunting after he ran up to Crabtree as he walked off the field, initially attempting to shake his hand, which resulted in Crabtree putting his hand on Sherman’s face mask. Sherman also flashed a choke sign, which he said was directed at 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Sherman called approaching Crabtree when he did “bad timing” and said “I knew that was the game, and after those games. . . . like I said in the press conference, there weren’t going to be a lot of handshakes. Most of the team got up and walked away and walked off the field. I was going, ‘Good game.’”
As for the choke sign? Sherman said no regrets. “No man, it’s Reggie Miller,” he said, referencing the former NBA player who famously gave a choke sign during a heated playoff series against the New York Knicks. “It’s Reggie Miller. These are rivalries right?”
Sherman, in fact, said maybe he would have been better off playing in the era of Miller, or even earlier, also mentioning boxer Muhammad Ali.
“I feel like I may be missing out, because I feel like my game might be 20 years too late,” he said. “Maybe I watched those guys too much. Maybe I studied the Muhammad Alis, the Deion Sanders, the guys who played the game — Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice — I studied the old-school game more than I studied the new-school game, and I play it that way.
“It rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and giving a true speech after a game, a true passionate speech is old-school football. Playing press corner and sitting up there every single play is old-school football. I guess maybe I haven’t adjusted to the times.”
Sherman also contrasted his heat-of-the-moment actions with much of the social media reaction they received, noting he was called a “thug.”
“We’re talking about football here,” he said. “A lot of people took it a little further than football. I guess some people showed how far we’ve really come in this day and age. It was kind of profound what happened, and people’s opinion and things of that nature, because I was on a football field showing passion.
“People behind computer screens that are typing had all the time in the world to contemplate everything they were going to say and articulate it exactly how they wanted to. Some of it, I’m sure they’re pretty embarrassed about.”