Exclusive interview: Richard Sherman says he's misunderstood, 'I'm a people pleaser'

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What’s has it been like to be Richard Sherman the last week?

"It’s been great, man. A lot of people have sent congratulations for making it to the Super Bowl. You know, it’s a lifelong dream of everybody’s, as you’re a little kid. And you always want to get in this big game. And to make the play to send my team to the big game, man, it’s unbelievable."

sherman3You’ve becoming an incredibly polarizing figure nationwide – unintentional – or mission accomplished?

“Uh - Mission Accomplished. (laughs) Mission accomplished. You know – the, the, the hate and all the negativity was obviously not intended. And, you know, the racial names wasn’t intended. I didn’t want to make it that kind of fight, but – and obviously, the taking away from my teammates, and taking away from Kam Chancellor’s amazing game. Doug Baldwin’s amazing game. Marshawn’s great, fantastic game. Bobby’s great game, and how our D-Line played – that was never intentional. But everything else was pretty – pretty good.”

You have a platform bigger than you could have ever imagined. What’s your message going forward?

“Anything is possible. Your potential is limitless. To the kids in the inner city and kids who haven’t been afforded every opportunity that they should’ve been afforded -- anything’s possible. Just continue to work hard and listen to your parents. And trust in your abilities and you can really make it anywhere as long as you believe.”

How distracting has this been from game preparation?

“None. Not at all – not at all. Nothing distracts from that. That’s my main focus, that’s always my focus. We’ve got one more game to play. And now wouldn’t be the time to take away from the film study and the hard work that we’ve done to get here. So, it hasn’t distracted us at all.”

For road games, you normally travel the day before or two days before a game. How much does it change things, being on the road for a full week before the game?

“I think it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be fun man to get away for a bit, to see another city. Seattle’s gonna do everything they can to bring everything from Seattle to New York and make us feel comfortable and like we’re at home. I think it’s gonna be unbelievable.”

You’re from sunny Southern California. Ever played in a blizzard?

“I have not played in a blizzard. I’ve played in – the coldest I’ve ever played in was 10 degrees in Lancaster or something like that at night and the grass was frozen over – but I’ve never played in a blizzard, and – it is what it is, though – We can play this football – bring our defense anywhere."

I think you’re the best cornerback in the game right now. But I watched you in college – a lot. I’m gonna be completely honest. I didn’t think you were that good. What would you say to that?

“That’s fair. That’s fair. Well, I mean I was raw back then. You know, I was still learning the game. Still learning how to play corner. You hadn’t played it in years and you’re playing receiver. You really – you’re really trying to figure out the nuances, still trying to figure the position out. And I think as the years progressed, the first year was really tough to try and figure everything out – you gotta tackle, you gotta do this, you gotta learn how to play the game in a different way than you’ve played it for 5, 6, 7 years. And, I think in my second year, I began to grasp, to catch my bearings, to catch my feet, and know where I needed to be and understand the concepts and what I meant to the defense. And I think that’s a testament to Derek Mason and Vic Fangio for developing my understanding of the game and how it was supposed to be played. And, just like everything else, repetition builds confidence and the more I’ve played, the better I’ve gotten, the more comfortable I’ve gotten, the more understanding of the game, I’ve gotten. So that’s what that is."

So what part of your game needs to improve now?

"There are a lot of things. My technique at the line can always be better. And being patient. Staying focused was something I worked on being last year. You know – the ball doesn’t come your way the whole game – staying focused for every play. Coming up in the run game and tackling is something I’ve worked on. Trying to force more turnovers. Trying to punch the ball out, stripping it out. Those are some of the things I’ve been working on."

How do you prepare for the circus that is “Super Bowl Media Day?”

"You embrace it. You really just embrace it and don’t change anything. You can only be yourself. And – and – that’s as comfortable as you’re gonna be. If you’re yourself and don’t try and change anything and don’t try to be somebody else and don’t be uptight and nervous. The person I know how to be the most is myself. And – talk about the great teammates you got and just enjoy the moment."

You’ve in the past called out opposing players to motivate yourself? You plan on doing that this time around?

“No, I mean, it’s only when it’s called for. I don’t think it’s called for in this situation, and every situation is unique. And obviously this one is unique. And there’s no reason for that. Obviously we’re playing against a very well-respected opponent. And an opponent we hold in high regard. And there’s no reason to call anybody out or say anything. And I’m sure there will be respect on both sides."

The “Beats By Dre” commercial – is that a true reflection of how you feel about the media?

"(Laughs) Obviously not all of them. But sometimes it is like that. It’s kinda – it’s hard to deal with – you know, constant questions, overlapping questions, and just things you have to be prepared for and understand the moment. And not get fired up."

Who’s the one player in the locker room that needs to be a little more “Richard Sherman” with his answers with the media?

"Um, I’m sure everyone would love for me to say Marshawn. But, uh…. Trying to think… I don’t know. I think everybody has their own way about them. I don’t think anyone needs a little more me in them. Everyone has their own way about them and their own way of doing things and that works for us."

What actor would play you in a movie?

"Denzel! Denzel (Washington) would be the only one who could pull it off"

The only guy?

"Yeah, because he’s the best. Denzel has played everything from a gangster thug, an army man, a dad of a heart transplant patient. Man, the list goes on. Security guard, ex-cop. I’m surprised they didn’t get him to do The Matrix."

Would he look good in dreadlocks too?

"He would pull it off. He’d pull it off. Denzel could do it."

What are your plans for after the season?

"Rest my body. Rest my bones. Let everything heal up. Then – I don’t know, get ready to do it all again. Obviously I’m gonna make some time to help my community and talk to as many kids and go to camps – gotta go to Earl’s camp, and go to Kam’s camp, and go see as many people, affect as many people, touch as many people as I can. And back to work."

Are people surprised when they meet you sometimes because they portray you as somebody else than you actually are?

"Yeah, I’ve gotten that a lot. Even if they’re fans of opposing teams. They’ll be like ‘Man, I thought you were so much worse of a person than what you are. You’re really making me – you know, it’s hard to really dislike you. I mean, I’m a 49ers fan but, uh, I can’t help but cheer for you. I’m not gonna do it when you’re playing us, but geez.' And that’s just how it is. Sometimes people judge a book by its cover and don’t actually read the book. You know, you gotta read the summary from time to time."

You look back a year ago – you couldn’t do what you did on Bourbon Street at that time this year. Too many people would recognize you, right?

“Yeah, that’d be tough to do. Actually somebody that I interviewed on Bourbon St. tweeted at me and was like ‘Man you interviewed me. You wouldn’t get me this time.’ I thought that was funny."

My fiancé asked me to ask you this question: “What would it be like to date Richard Sherman?”

“You’d have a great time, man – I’m a people pleaser. I think I’m a romantic, sometimes. I mean, you’d have a lot of Gushers at your disposal. Um, you’d laugh a lot. And then – I mean, as long as you can deal with the nonsense that people say and be okay with it, it’d be pretty fun.”