OK, sports world, let’s get one thing straight before the Super Bowl turns everything into a caricature.
Richard Sherman is a Seahawk.
The Seahawks aren’t Richard Sherman.
Don’t get lazy just because The Best Corner In The Game! trash-talked his way into your household. You might not have known much about the Seahawks until then, and it would be wrong to assume that Sherman represents the ideal concierge to the team’s image.
Sherman revealed a key part of who the Seahawks are with his post-NFC Championship Game rants last Sunday. Like the All-Pro cornerback, the Seahawks’ collective identity is brash, rambunctious, youthful and passionate. But like any team with a 53-man roster, the Seahawks are so much more.
To characterize the entire team based on one Sherman moment would be as inaccurate as declaring that the Seahawks are stately just because Russell Wilson is their quarterback. Sherman and Wilson each represent one window into a fascinating house.
The Seahawks are a potluck of personalities that coach Pete Carroll has turned into a gourmet meal. They’re as tough and punishing as running back Marshawn Lynch, as intense as free safety Earl Thomas and as mild-mannered as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
They’re considered an oversized team because defensive end Red Bryant weighs 323 pounds, and strong safety Kam Chancellor is a hulking 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, and their cornerbacks are big and physical. But they’re also small and swift, with Wilson commanding the offense as the shortest starting quarterback in the league (5-10 5/8) and Thomas leading the defense despite appearing shorter than his listed 5-10 height.
General manager John Schneider has built a team that is rugged, yet fast. They have an intriguing, oxymoronic quality in both their playing style and personality. It fits the approach the front office used in building this team: Envision a prototype, but be flexible enough to also pursue unique talent.
The Seahawks are a well-devised team of checks and balances. Their bravado stands out the most because that’s the way swagger works. I have referred to the Seahawks as the ego of the city, which is accurate. But this team is also grounded in sanity.
They’re ready for their close-up, sports world.
Take a good picture.
“We’re a match made in heaven; I guess you could say that,” Sherman said when asked about how the Seahawks will fare on the big stage. “I guess we’re made for the big lights.”
One thing that doesn’t fit the Seahawks: The villain label.
Don’t judge a team by its corner.
Some want to make a Seahawks-Denver Broncos Super Bowl into the villains versus the virtuous. It’s a most ridiculous description of the matchup.
Sherman has a big mouth. The Seahawks have had issues with drug suspensions, reportedly for Adderall and marijuana use. Lynch has an unresolved DUI case. But that doesn’t make them villains.
The Broncos aren’t villains just because injured star linebacker Von Miller served a six-game drug suspension. And the Broncos aren’t virtuous just because quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the most likable star athletes on the planet. They’re a well-rounded, interesting team, just like the Seahawks. They’re flawed, but ultimately great. Just like the Seahawks.
Of the villain label, Sherman said, “That’s hilarious. That’s hilarious because anytime you label Russell Wilson a villain, it has to be a joke.”
The Super Bowl can be a cesspool of pathetic, parachute journalism, and Sherman’s mistake after the NFC title game could turn any team into a band of cartoon characters. But if you look more closely, you’ll see the multiplicity in Sherman and the entire Seahawks team.
If you listen, you’ll hear of how Wilson visits Seattle Children’s Hospital every Tuesday, not for publicity but out of genuine compassion. You’ll learn of backup running back Robert Turbin’s tragic family tale and how he persevered as the head of the household at a young age. You’ll love fullback Derrick Coleman, the first deaf offensive player in the NFL.
You can explore the hilarious sack dances of Brandon Mebane, who does a belly roll, and Michael Bennett, who thrusts his hips. Or you can listen to defensive end Red Bryant talk about anything in his Texas drawl; he’s guaranteed to be insightful and pleasant.
“Years down the road, when they talk about the Seahawks, they’re going to talk about that 2013 team,” Bryant said before the playoffs. “We’re still not sure exactly what they’re going to say about us, whether it’s going to be all positive or negative, but we’re going to be remembered.”
Remember the Seahawks as the biggest, most boisterous family you’ve ever met. They’re fun — and funny. They have impromptu dance-offs in the locker room. They’re the only team whose fullback (Michael Robinson) is more of a media darling than its star tailback (Lynch). They’re a bunch of former underdogs who have become stars. They’re a motley crew that thrives off their diverse talents.
For the big stage, they are a match made in heaven.
Well, as long as you haven’t already condemned them to hell.