Richard Sherman is the reason I want to be a sideline reporter in the NFL.
I’ll admit, when Sherm used to play for the Seattle Seahawks, I really disliked him. He’s the type of cornerback who’s not only an elite player; he’s incredibly well spoken and generous off the field, too. He inspires others in every single thing he does. But he’s a female dog to watch when he’s not on your team.
Especially when he plays for one of your team’s biggest rivals.
Let’s hop in the DeLorean to January 19th, 2014 at then CenturyLink Field: the dreaded NFC Championship game that still gives me night terrors. I had only been following the Red & Gold for just over two years—one of them being the Harbaugh Bowl Massacre the previous season—and pain was all I knew as a 49ers Faithful.
Colin Kaepernick was still our QB and I had a major crush on the dude. I swooned with every bicep kiss.
I remember watching the big game at a bar in Vancouver. The Academic. My crazy ex and I used to get kicked out of there all the time, including that night. I’m pretty sure there was a full moon, too. The odds were ever not in our favour, kind of like the 49ers season this year.
Back it up, though.
Just like in every big game since I’ve been a fan, the team started strong and then crumbled in the fourth quarter. The feared Final 15 struck again. During San Francisco’s last drive of the NFC Championship, Malcolm Smith intercepted my man-candy Kap, all thanks to a tip off the fingers of none other than Seahawks cornerback, Uncle Sherm. I signaled to my waitress for another tequila shot and the rest of the night is basically a blur.
Except for that now infamous post-game interview with Erin Andrews.
Unlike Jerry Maguire, Sherm did not have me at hello. Rather, he had me at “Well, I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me.”
My jaw dropped and I still don’t know if I’ve ever fully picked it back up. What is this beautiful reporter going to respond? I watched Andrews carefully.
“Who was talking about you?” she asked with a straight, yet questioning face.
Something clicked at that moment and I felt this burning desire inside of me. I needed to experience an interaction like that in my life. Andrews’ calmly tried to ask another question after Sherman’s next response, but it was too late. The Legion of Boom badass walked off the field to celebrate the 23-17 win with his former team.
And the 49ers went into hibernation from the playoffs for the next five seasons, up until last year’s triumphant Super Bowl appearance with the elite enemy finally on our side.
Sherman signed with San Fran on March 10th, 2018. I was shocked. Then I was in denial. Sure, part of me was giddy and felt a sense of ownership over the Seahawks. Like that episode of The Office where Michael Scott signs Danny Cordray so he can’t steal clients from Dunder Mifflin Scranton anymore. Ironically enough, Seattle hasn’t made it past the Wild Card round since we poached Uncle Sherm.
A lot of fans were skeptical about the Seahawks’ sloppy seconds, though. Some of the Faithful, like my girl Justine, nearly went into cardiac arrest:
And others recognized his greatness, despite him being the Darth Vader of our division.
That NFC Championship game changed a lot of lives. I probably wouldn’t be typing this very column if Sherman didn’t rip on Crabtree on camera alongside Erin Andrews that cold night in January.
I recall waking up the next day and watching that interview repeatedly. There’s something about those spontaneous moments where you have absolutely no control over what could happen next that makes you feel completely alive. I feel that way every time I interview an athlete. Heck, I even feel it when I hop on a live stream and give my version of a post-game report on Periscope.
The unknown can be scary. We’re 49ers fans, so we’re used to the uncertainty of each season. San Francisco’s had 25 different players on the IR who have missed a combined 171 games this year alone.
Being predictable is hella boring, though. And besides, it feels pretty great to stuff it to the LA Rams—not once, but twice—after nearly every silly #Ramily fan and NFL analyst picked the Lambs over the 49ers in Sunday’s contest.
Side note: anyone else need a new broom after that sweep? Ha!
Okay, it wasn’t a perfect showdown. But like I’ve said all season, the team has been a disheveled mess. It’s hard to slay the dragon without your best knights in the lineup. Thankfully, three knights in shining armour came to the rescue after being activated off the injury reserve list:
· Deebo Samuel – 11 receptions for 133 yards, including a 33-yarder, and a 24-yarder on the game-winning drive.
· Raheem Mostert – 16 carries for 43 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter
· Richard Sherman – 7 total tackles, including 6 solo & 1 assist, and 18-yard interception in the first quarter
Nick Mullens' noodle arm failed to produce up until the final moments of the game. But he held it together better than Jared Goff who, might I remind you, recently signed a $134 million contract last year.
He’s the Wiley Coyote of the NFL: even when the Road Runner is right in front of him, he still can’t light his damn stick of dynamite.
Goff went 19 for 31 with 198 yards and two interceptions.
One of them being defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw’s first NFL career Pick 6. Kinlaw returned the INT for 27 yards. He’s currently 1st among rookies with a 91.6 overall grade and is tied for 3rd among all NFL DTS. How high is his ceiling? He doesn’t even have a roof!
Back to Mullens, who makes pennies compared to Goff: He went 24 for 35 with 252 yards and one interception. There were a couple moments in the game where I held my breath. I think my heart stopped beating for a minute, too. But finally, the curse of the Final 15 was broken when Nicky Boy turned up the heat in the 49ers last drive of the game, which in turn was the game-winning charge down the field that gave kicker Robbie Gould a chance to seal the deal.
Spoiler alert: he didn’t shank it and the 49ers beat LA 23-20.
Robert Saleh was a puppet master on D and stunned the Lambs with some moves that had the Faithful riding that 2019 wave of defence ecstasy all over again. The Pretenders showed up and left a trail of bamboozled doubters in the dust. They were hoodwinked, even.
In all seriousness, if I could give the game-winning ball to anyone, I’d happily award it to Richard Sherman.
His presence on the field and in the locker room is invaluable. Sherm adds a layer to our defense that has been missing this entire season: Mentorship.
At the beginning of September, I asked CB Emmanuel Moseley who he looks up to most on the 49ers. He quickly responded, “Richard Sherman.”
Uncle Sherm is an elite vet who has so much fight in him, you can’t help but want him on your team—even though he used to play for your arch-nemesis. And following Week 12’s victory against the Rams, I think we’re all pretty happy that he’s part of our family.
After all, he is the best corner in the game.