BRADY HENDERSON

Richard Sherman defends Cam Newton’s benching, details Seahawks’ dress code

Dec 7, 2016, 3:18 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm
Cam Newton was benched for the start of Sunday night's game for not wearing a necktie on the team's...
Cam Newton was benched for the start of Sunday night's game for not wearing a necktie on the team's trip. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked Wednesday if his team has a dress code like the Panthers.

“We have a dress code,” Carroll said. “I didn’t answer the second part of that. We have a dress code.”

In other words: Seattle’s isn’t the same as the one that led Carolina coach Ron Rivera to bench Cam Newton for the start of Sunday night’s game, which became an unusual subplot to the Seahawks’ blowout victory. Rivera’s decision was significant not just because of what happened on Carolina’s opening play but because of the larger implications of a team publicly disciplining its quarterback and most important player.

“I have no thoughts,” Carroll said when asked what he thought of the way the Panthers handled the Newton necktie flap. “They do whatever they want to do. However they want to do it. No opinion.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman had one. He agreed with Rivera’s decision.

“Accountability,” Sherman said. “You’ve got to hold everybody accountable the same. You start treating guys different, then it’s a slippery slope.”

That was likely at least part of Rivera’s reasoning for temporarily benching Newton, the Panthers’ $20-million-a-year quarterback and the NFL’s reigning MVP. He didn’t wear a tie on the team’s trip to Seattle from the Bay Area, where the Panthers had stayed last week following their game in Oakland. According to recent reports, Newton was previously warned about his attire by Rivera and knew he’d be disciplined if he didn’t wear a tie.

He didn’t, and so it was backup Derek Anderson who took the field for the start of Sunday night’s game, a surprise to almost everyone inside CenturyLink Field, Seattle’s players included. Anderson threw a pass on the opening play that went through the hands of fullback Mike Tolbert and right to Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan. Seattle kicked a field and never looked back.

Newton entered the game on Carolina’s next possession.

“I thought maybe there was an injury to Cam that they may have been withholding or maybe he sprained his hand in warmups or something crazy,” Sherman said about Newton not taking the field at the start. “Crazier things have happened. Then once he came in, we didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Carroll is known for giving his players quite a bit of leeway compared to some of the NFL’s more stringent coaches. That much is evident in the way Carroll allows them to express themselves publicly, and from the sounds of it, that also applies to their dress code for away games.

“For one-day trips, it’s more formal,” Sherman said. “You wear polo shirts or jeans or something nicer – very ambiguous – but nicer.”

That’s right, polo shirts and jeans are considered formal attire. Slippers aren’t allowed, though.

“Put your shoes on,” Sherman said. “He doesn’t like me wearing my UGGs.”

For shorter flights – to California or Arizona, for instance – the Seahawks will typically leave on a Saturday for a Sunday game. They’ll take off on Friday when they’re heading to the east coast. The dress code is even more lax for those trips, Sherman said.

“For two-day trips, it’s more casual because it’s obviously going to be a time change and a longer flight, so he allows us to wear kind of whatever you can put on,” Sherman said. “But for one-day trips, two-day trips, it changes.”

What about slippers on the plane? Is Carroll OK with that?

“He doesn’t go back there and check,” Sherman said with a laugh before referencing Newton’s tie flap. “But if you’re asking have we ever run into anything like that, we haven’t. Pete’s a pretty cool guy. Don’t be disrespectful and most guys respect things he says and are pretty good about that.”

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Richard Sherman defends Cam Newton’s benching, details Seahawks’ dress code