O’Neil: How much of Richard Sherman’s nonsense will the Seahawks be willing to tolerate?

Feb 28, 2017, 11:44 AM
According to Danny O'Neil, Richard Sherman privately expressed regret to Darrell Bevell for critici...
According to Danny O'Neil, Richard Sherman privately expressed regret to Darrell Bevell for criticizing Seattle's offensive play-calling late last season but has maintained publicly that he was not out of line in doing so. (AP)

Richard Sherman is not going to express so much as an ounce of regret.

He has made that clear – repeatedly – over the past three months. That unwillingness to even inch toward a public apology is one of the only things you can say for certain about Sherman right now.

I don’t know why he was unwilling to tell reporters that he was out of line when he criticized the Seahawks’ offensive play-calling back in December, and I don’t know why Sherman insinuated this week that he did not say what he was, in fact, recorded saying to Jim Moore during a contentious exchange following a press conference.

Yes, it’s as absurd as it sounds, and whether he’s playing word games here or living in an alternate reality, this isn’t about the media anymore. Not really, anyway. It’s about whether the Seahawks are willing to overlook the fact that one of their elite players is behaving like a stubborn bozo when he talks publicly.

And it’s very possible that the Seahawks not only will do that, but that they should. Contending teams don’t stay at the top by letting go of their best players and Sherman is absolutely one of Seattle’s best.

But it’s a question of tolerance at this point. Just how much head-scratching behavior are the Seahawks willing to put up with from their players? For the past three years, the answer has been quite a bit.

Marshawn Lynch wasn’t exactly a cooperative employee his last two seasons as a Seahawk and coach Pete Carroll never reached a breaking point with him.

And in this case, it’s not Sherman’s behind-the-scenes behavior that is an issue. In fact, I’ve been told that Sherman admitted he let his emotions get the best of him to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell back in December. Sherman said that to Bevell before he went and reiterated his complaints about the play-call during a press conference.

This is not how it usually works in pro sports, which is chock full of millionaire athletes who put on a smile and repeat clichés publicly while being entitled and arrogant as employees. Sherman is the one guy doing pretty much everything you’d want privately and putting on a surly show of defiance publicly, which is exactly what he did this week when ESPN’s Cari Champion asked him if he regretted what he said to Moore.

Champion: “After you and that guy got into it, did you feel like, ‘Oh man, maybe I shouldn’t have said what I said?'”

Sherman: “No, because nobody ever knew what I said. Once again, ‘sources say.’ Who was there? Did anybody see it? Who was there?”

Well, actually, there were more than two dozen media members there, and if you don’t believe them, there are also microphones that picked up Sherman’s words, albeit at a distance.

Sherman was asked if the exchange was incorrectly reported: “Nobody knows. Nobody knows what was correct. All you hear is, ‘He say, she say.'”

Sherman was asked again if it was incorrectly reported.

Sherman: “It was incorrect how they portrayed it, yes.”

Note that Sherman never explicitly denies saying what he was reported to have said, but disputes that there is proof. When pressed, he states that the portrayal – not the quote itself – was incorrect.

I don’t know whether it’s pride that prevents Sherman from admitting he’s wrong. Perhaps it’s a stubborn streak a mile wide or maybe he’s got an unrelenting desire to have the last word on absolutely everything. We all know that guy, right? The one who can’t ever admit that anyone knows more than him about anything. And eventually, you get really, really tired of that guy.

Jim Moore: Contentious exchange with Richard Sherman isn’t a story

I don’t know that the Seahawks have reached that point. In fact, I don’t know if Carroll will ever reach that point with any player while that guy is still playing at an elite level, and in spite of any critiques you heard of Sherman’s play last year, he’s still performing at an elite level.

What I do know is that Sherman’s insistence on trying to win every single argument is only extending a fight he will not win and making him look delusional in the process.

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O’Neil: How much of Richard Sherman’s nonsense will the Seahawks be willing to tolerate?