RENTON – What’s next?
It’s a question for Seattle, but also a challenge. One the Seahawks will face as a team and one that cornerback Richard Sherman will answer individually.
It has been a heck of a five months for the Seahawks in general, but for Sherman in particular. He signed a new contract, was fitted for a Super Bowl ring and had his name dropped a couple of times by the President of the United States. And then last week, he was elected to adorn the cover of the most popular video game in existence, “Madden NFL 15” by EA Sports.
That’s quite a bit of success for a player who for the first three years in the NFL has taken the feeling he was overlooked and underrated and turned it into the gasoline that fueled his ascent to the top of the league. Now, we’re going to see if he can stay there.
“Just maintaining,” Sherman said. “It’s about being consistent in this game, and I think that consistency is the biggest thing we focus on. You want to be consistent day in, day out. Practice in, practice out. Season in and season out.”
This marks a different point in the storyline of a champion. This is no longer the building process. Not for Sherman, and not for his team. The question is no longer how high anyone can climb, but how long they can sit atop their current perch.
And despite all the accolades of this offseason, not to mention the millions of dollars, Sherman stood at a podium after Monday’s workout vowing to summon the same hard-scrabble determination he showed as a fifth-round pick who moved into the starting lineup in 2011 only because the two cornerbacks ahead of him on the depth chart were injured.
“You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can’t take where he was from,” Sherman said. “That’s what it always is going to come down to.”
It’s why he has been one of the most consistent participants in the team’s offseason conditioning program, someone coach Pete Carroll singled out on Monday after a workout that he wasn’t obligated to attend.
Newly minted? Maybe. Opting for an easy way out? Never.
“It’s voluntary, but I’m a ball player,” Sherman said. “What else am I going to be doing? When you’re a ball player at the heart and this is what you sleep, breathe and eat, then this is where you want to be. I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else because you just feel the itch to be back on the field, to be back with your teammates, to be back out there getting better. Like they say, you never stay the same. Either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse, and if you’re not on the field, it’s hard to get better.”
The Seahawks aren’t like the other 31 teams in the league that will be able to look to the disappointment of the way last season ended for inspiration. They might have an even tougher challenge of trying to recapture their hunger by disregarding the satisfaction of last season.
It’s a challenge that is best embodied by Sherman, who has fulfilled so many professional goals in the past five months. Now that Sherman and his teammates have tasted the ultimate success in the NFL, can they sustain it?
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who want to be in the Hall of Fame,” Sherman said, “and want to do greater things than just win one Super Bowl. I think you could even see that after the game. Guys were sitting there like, ‘What’s next?’ “
That is more than a question in Seattle. It’s a challenge.