Welcome to Tuesdays with Richard on Thursdays, a weekly multimedia series featuring Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Throughout the 2016 season, Richard will provide a unique and intimate glance at his life behind-the-scenes and on the field, across articles, photos and videos. This week, he takes on our Tribune Mailbag.
Everyone’s talking about Odell Beckham Jr. and his antics. As a cornerback who’s known for being great at playing the mental game, how do you take advantage of a guy who’s getting frustrated like that or getting off his game? —Brett
Honestly, it’s difficult. It’s really a case-by-case basis because if you go at a player like that, it can go one of two ways: He’ll either get more frustrated and get further off his game — which we’ve seen with Odell — or he could turn around and smoke a guy for 200 yards, and you just woke up a sleeping dragon. You’ve seen that with Odell, too. People talk about how he got into it with Josh Norman last season, but Odell caught the game-tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of that game after making a 40-yard catch a few plays earlier. So you can talk all you want and do all that extra stuff, but at the end of the day you still gotta line up and go at it.
You talk a lot about player safety. What’s one thing you think the NFL could do to make the game safer? —Myles
That’s a good question, and a tough one. Guys are playing so fast that there’s not much you can do to make the game safer as it’s currently played. Most big collisions come in the open field because guys are running free. So I think if defensive backs were allowed to be more physical at the line of scrimmage, it would help slow guys down a little bit. When a defensive back can’t put his hands on a receiver and can’t be physical, you get a guy running unabated, untouched, full speed on one side, and a DB or a linebacker in space who can line him up, and it creates these big collisions — the kind of collisions you used to see only every once in a while, but now you see all the time. So I think one thing the league could do is change the rules and allow defenses to be more physical at the line of scrimmage.
If you could be a professional athlete in another sport, what would it be? —Connor
Basketball. No doubt. I love the intensity of every game. It’s a lot of fun.
I also like the way NBA players have a great relationship with the league, and how the league allows its players to be individuals, have a good time and celebrate the sport. I think I’d do well in a sport like that.
What is your favorite book? —Steven
I don’t know about a favorite book, but there’s a book I’m reading right now that I’m really into called King of the World. It’s about Muhammad Ali, and it’s a deep examination of his career, his opponents and his rise to stardom. The way his childhood was. The way he viewed the world. The way he viewed everything. It’s a great book.
Ali has always been a huge motivating influence for me. His famous quote, “I’m the greatest, I said that before I knew I was,” has always resonated with me. The idea that you can speak something into existence — you can stand up for what you believe in and make it reality. I’ve tried to emulate him throughout my life — how sure of himself he was in interviews, how he carried himself. So going deep into his life while reading this book has been pretty cool.
Who is the most underrated player in the NFL, and on the Seahawks? Also you’re doing great so far this year. Keep it up! —Dylan
I think the kid from Minnesota is pretty underrated. The corner, Xavier Rhodes. He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but he plays a great game. He’s good in coverage and he’s a fundamentally sound tackler.
On my team, I’d have to go with K.J. Wright. He’s probably also one of the most underrated players in the whole league. He’s a tackling machine — and not just tackles 10–15 yards down the field. He also makes tackles in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. He diagnoses plays incredibly well and he makes a lot of plays in coverage. But when you play outside linebacker in this league, if you don’t have 10–15 sacks, you get overlooked. And in our system, it’s difficult for our outside linebackers to get that many sacks because they’re not rushing the passer every play. We’re not a 3–4 defense. So it’s difficult for a guy like K.J. to get the stats he needs to be viewed as a Pro Bowl player, even though he’s been playing at a Pro Bowl level for a number of years.
I have three sons and raising each was a crazy and great experience in its own way. Now that you have children of your own, what’s been the most challenging thing and/or the most exciting part of fatherhood? —Raymond
The most challenging part has probably been having patience. Understanding that kids literally don’t know any better — they don’t know anything — and it’s your job to teach them. But the most fun and exciting thing is when that patience pays off and you see them learn new things. When they take what you teach them and put it into action. Little things, too, like when they figure out new food they like or learn new words.
My son is almost two years old, and he says excuse me and please and thank you. He knows how to ask for milk, or Bodyarmor.
That’s not a plug … he literally asks for Bodyarmor.
Sometimes he’ll wake up in the middle of the night, thirsty, and he’ll say, “Ba-ba.”
“O.K., what do you want in it?”
He used to just say, “Body!” He could never say both body and armor together. He’d hold up his bottle, shake it to let me know it was empty, and say, “Mo’ Body!” But he’s got it down now. It’s the funniest thing. It’s not always funny at 1 a.m., but it’s still pretty funny.
I know that you do a lot of work with at-risk youth. What advice do you like to offer to children who are going through troubling times? Any advice against bullying would be appreciated as well. —Angela, mother of twins with autism
Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. It’s difficult to go through adversity, but adversity builds character and it makes you into the person you were meant to be. So continue to be strong and persevere and understand that it won’t last forever.
When I was in high school, other kids called me “nerd” because I liked books and got good grades. But the thing is, it wasn’t about me at all. Kids bully other kids because they have their own insecurities and things they need to deal with internally, and they turn around and take it out on other people. So understand that it really has nothing to do with you. You just have to be strong and self-confident. The storm always passes.
Who’s one NFL player from the past who you would envision still being dominant in today’s game? —Dan
The first name that comes to mind is Randy Moss. But he might not be far enough removed, so I would say Reggie White. The rules down in the trenches haven’t changed that much over the years. Dominance then would still be dominance today. He was one of the greatest to ever play on the defensive line, and that’s a grown man’s game down there. I think he’d still dominate because speed is still speed, power is still power and he had both.
If you were Roger Goodell, what would be the first three executive decisions you would make to improve the NFL? —J.J.
First, I’d even some of the rules out. Make them more fair. I’d impose the same penalty for both defensive and offensive pass interference. Right now, defensive pass interference could feasibly be a 50-, 60-, 70-yard penalty, because it’s a spot foul. But offensive pass interference is a 10-yard penalty every time, regardless of circumstance. So it’s a small penalty if an offensive player interferes with a defensive player’s ability to catch the ball, but a potentially huge penalty if a defensive player interferes with an offensive player. I would make pass interference a 15-yard penalty for both offense and defense. That’s just fair.
Second, I would change the fine schedule. Understand that a lot of the young players in this league are on minimum salaries, and if you fine a guy $20,000 for a play where he didn’t have any intent to hurt anybody or to break the rules, that $20,000 might be a disproportionate percentage of his paycheck. You could easily impose lesser fines or penalize players in other ways to get the point across.
Third, I’d create a more sustainable relationship with the players union so we could have conversations about how to better serve our players — the guys who go out there and sacrifice their bodies to allow the league to thrive the way it does. Currently, there isn’t a lot of dialogue between the league and the union because everything has to be collectively bargained, and when the two sides do come together to discuss issues, there’s very little trust. That’s not the way it should be, but that’s the way it is. I’d work to change that.
Do you still keep up with and follow Stanford athletics? They had a huge Olympics. What are your thoughts on Simone Manuel? —Matt
I think it was awesome to see how well Stanford was represented at the Olympics. It was a testament to just how incredible the people are who attend and work at that university. Stanford is known as the Home of Champions for a reason.
What Simone Manuel did was awesome. It was cool to see her win, but it was also cool to see an African-American woman win in a sport where they’re not well represented. I think her performance was a huge testament to her hard work and dedication.
What’s something you know now that you wish you had known before your career as a pro football player? —Yves
It might sound obvious, but I would say the importance of film study. We didn’t study a lot of film when I was younger. We studied it a little in college, but during my senior year at Stanford was when we had coaches who really taught us how to watch film and dissect an offense — how to identify formations and recognize certain tendencies that correlate with different downs and distances. Things like that are really important, and you find patterns that can give you an indication of what the offense is going to do. That understanding has only grown since I’ve been in the NFL. Had I known at an earlier age how essential film study was, I would have put a lot more time into it.
Who is the toughest competitor you have ever lined up against, and what makes them so different? —Sean
It’s gotta be Doug Baldwin. I go against him every day in practice, and he’s annoying. He’s a pest — a thorn in my side. He has one of the best releases I’ve ever seen, and even though I know all his moves, he can still come up with some new magic and surprise me. He’s the receiver version of me — he always goes hard.
You use your platform as an athlete to speak up about issues that are important to you, and we see other players get called out for not being vocal enough about social issues. What do you think a player’s responsibility is to use his or her platform in that way? —Sylvia
I don’t think an athlete has any more responsibility to be vocal on issues or take action than any other person in this world. I think sometimes people criticize athletes for not being more outspoken as a cop-out excuse for why they’re not getting involved or why they’re not doing more. People look to blame other people for their problems or shortcomings instead of taking it upon themselves to address them. Just because somebody is a pro athlete, that doesn’t make their responsibility any less or any greater than any other citizen’s. It’s everyone’s responsibility to address the problems in our society and to do something to make a difference.