RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Richard Sherman wondered if he came to the NFL 20 years too late.
The Seattle Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback wondered if his swagger might have fit better a few decades earlier when that confidence and an unfiltered tongue was perhaps more accepted. "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," Sherman said Wednesday. "Giving a true speech after a game, a true passionate speech is old school football. Playing press corner and sitting up there every play is old school football. I guess maybe I just haven't adjusted to the times."
Sherman spoke at length for the first time since Sunday's NFC championship game win over San Francisco where his postgame comments to Fox reporter Erin Andrews became the talking point. It was a loud, emotional moment that happened just a few minutes after the Seahawks earned the second Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
Sherman was at the center of the decisive play, deflecting a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone and watching teammate Malcolm Smith run over to intercept it to clinch the victory. Sherman's ensuing remarks were directed mostly at Crabtree but his intense, shouting delivery is what took people aback.
Sherman said the reaction that followed over the next two days left him a little stunned as well. "I was surprised by it. Because we're talking about football here and a lot of people took it a little bit further than football." Sherman said. "I guess some people showed how far we have really come in this day and age and it was kind of profound what happened and people's opinions of that nature, because I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected, maybe things may have been immature, maybe things could have been worded better but this is on a football field. I didn't commit any crimes, I wasn't doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game."
Sherman apologized for taking away the spotlight from the performances by some of his teammates. Marshawn Lynch's 109 yards rushing and 40-yard touchdown, Jermaine Kearse's 35-yard touchdown catch on fourth-down and Bobby Wagner's 15 tackles all became secondary to Sherman's words.
What seemed to bother Sherman the most in the fallout was hearing the word "thug" attached to his name. "The only reason it bothers me is it seems like it's an accepted way of calling someone the N-word nowadays. It's like everybody else said the N-word and they said thug and they're like, 'that's fine,'" Sherman said. "That's where it kind of takes me aback. It's kind of disappointing because they know. What is the definition of a thug, really?"
Sherman then referenced seeing highlights of the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames playing on Saturday when a fight broke out two seconds into the game. "They didn't even play hockey. They just threw their sticks aside and started fighting," he said. "I saw that and said, 'Oh, man, I'm the thug? What's going on here. Geez.' I'm really disappointed in being called a thug."
While there's been criticism for his rant, he's also received support. Perhaps most surprising was a tweet from baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. Not a huge user of social media — Aaron had sent seven tweets before Tuesday — his message to Sherman read, "hang in there & keep playing as well as you did Sunday. Excellent job - you have my support."
Sherman was peppered with questions for more than 20 minutes Wednesday. Teammate Russell Wilson was also asked about the fallout. He said it hasn't been a distraction as the Seahawks begin preparing for Denver.
Sherman also didn't like hearing that some have labeled the team villainous. "Anytime you label Russell Wilson a villain it has to be a joke," he said. Sherman said he has not reached out to Crabtree. Sherman attempted to shake Crabtree's hand following the interception only to get shoved in the face. Even after his on-field interview, Sherman continued to deride Crabtree in his postgame media session, calling the receiver "mediocre" and later saying their problems dated to an incident during an offseason event in Arizona.
Sherman said he doesn't regret the choke sign he directed at San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a gesture that drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. "No man, it's Reggie Miller," Sherman said. "It's Reggie Miller. It's rivalries, right?"
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