O’Neil: Ex-Seahawks stars elicit different reactions before Super Bowl
Two former Seahawks are playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl provoked two very different reactions in the build up to the game.
San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman reminded me why he was so beloved in his seven seasons as a Seahawk while Kansas City defensive end Frank Clark provided a glimpse of why I think Seattle made the right call to accept two high-end draft picks to let the Chiefs sign him.
“I don’t compare myself to no other defensive in the league,” Clark said. “I feel like my skill set is unique. Especially, you talk about Frank Clark.”
Uh oh. He just went third-person.
“When I’m healthy, I don’t feel like there’s a lot of defensive ends who can compete with me or play football at the level I play at,” he continued. “I play at an extremely high and aggressive level where I don’t tolerate a lot of stuff offensive players do. I’m sure he’s going to block and do all of those things and make some good catches and stuff, but at the end of the day Frank Clark is going to be on the field and they have to see me.”
The question about how much Seattle was willing to pay Clark went beyond his on-field play. There was always a question of how a big-budget contract and the expectations that went with it would impact his approach and mentality, and judging from the eight times he used “I” or “I’m,” two instances of “me” and a pair of third-person references in that one answer, it would appear that it went straight to his head.
Clark is about to feel the pressure that comes along with being a focal point.
As good as Clark has been in the playoffs – and he’s been pretty darn impressive with four sacks in two games – he also drew attention with his tough talk about how easy he thought it was to tackle Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and then pointed to his defense’s ability to back up that proclamation afterward. That’s great so long as the Chiefs keep winning, but when you command the attention that Clark has now sought out, it means that you’re going to be scrutinized when your team loses.
While he’s hardly the first player to boast of his own abilities in anticipation of playing on his sport’s biggest stage, those kind of pronouncements – in my experience – tend to correlate with someone who’s more likely to find fault with others than with himself when the going gets tough.
That certainly became part of the issue with Sherman during his second-to-last season in Seattle whether he was fussing on the sideline during an early-season game against the Falcons or erupting over a goal-line pass play later that season against the Rams.
And while I don’t think Seattle made the wrong decision by releasing Sherman after the 2017 season, he’s provided me this week of just how darn entertaining he is whether it was discussing his feelings about his college coach Jim Harbaugh – “Honestly, I wanted to put him out the league,” Sherman said. “And once I got that done, I’ve got no animosity toward the 49ers or any organization.” – or if it was an entertaining exchange with someone who professed to be a Seahawks fan and professed a desire for a reunion during one of the 49ers’ media availability sessions.
“I know I messed up, OK?” said the Seahawks fan. “I still care about you.”
Sherman responded, “I appreciate that.”
“And I know I made some mistakes.”
“If you give me another chance, and if you just think about coming back, I promise, I’ll treat you right. I just want you to think about that.”
Sherman: “I really appreciate that and I’m so thankful for the time we had. It was such an incredible relationship. It had its and it’s had its downs, and right now, the relationship I’m in, I’m so happy and I’m so thankful for the people I have with me and they came to me at the time when I was really down and out and they didn’t give up on me. You know, there’s something about that that you can just appreciate that genuinely and so I just try to focus on them right now.”
It was vintage Sherman and a reminder that I miss him even if I think Seattle made the necessary decision to turn the page.