What I Learned Last Week

February 03, 2014

1. No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is Somebody tweeted that at me after we beat the 49ers in the NFC title game. If I could pass a lesson on to the kids, it would be this: Don't attack anybody. I shouldn't have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don't have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.

2. This stage is bigger than I thought it was How much does America love football? My one little rant made it onto CNBC and CNN. I heard my name on The View. I get tweets in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Czech and Arabic (or what I think is Arabic). People identify with the struggle and the battle of a football game.

3. Sometimes you have to shut it down There came a point in the reaction to my Fox interview that I had to cut off the attention. The incident was so polarizing that you had to pick a side. You either hated it or you loved it. I looked at Twitter, and I saw two guys having a conversation about me in Spanish. I was going to Google translate it, but I just decided to let it go.

4. I'm lucky to have detractors You have to take a step back and understand that you're playing a game, and the people who say disparaging things online and on television are trying to take you off that game. I've learned not to take it personally. You have to accept it and not have a negative attitude. I appreciate the critics because they're so passionate as fans.

5. It's not all black and white Race played a major part in how my behavior was perceived, but I think it went beyond that. Would the reaction have been the same if I were clean-cut, without the dreadlocks? Maybe if I looked more acceptable to conservatives, my rant would have been understood as passion.

6. The NFL always wins Every time a game ends on a controversial call or somebody loses it on camera, it's free advertising for the NFL. It's not just my name being talked about; it's the NFL too. That means more eyes on the Super Bowl, more clicks on NFL.com and potentially more sales of my jersey, for which I don't see a dollar. Even when the league is taking money out of my pockets with fines, it is constantly winning.

7. Anonymous isn't for me Last season I went to the Super Bowl in New Orleans by myself, took a video crew to Bourbon Street and asked fans who was the best lockdown corner in the game: Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis? Most of these football fans, who were dedicated enough to go to the Super Bowl, didn't know who I was. You're anonymous until you put yourself out there or show up in a big game. I did both.

8. The violence takes a toll When you play the game, you can't go very long without seeing a career or a season end on one play. Running into each other at full speed is not what God intended for our bodies. Everybody knows the NFL stands for Not For Long, and we each handle that pressure in our own way. You've got to appreciate every moment and treat it like it's your last. You stay locked in mentally. When you're watching that from the outside, sometimes you're going to see things you might not agree with.

9. Pete Carroll is a rock But I already knew that. After the win over the Niners, my coach sat me down and we talked about the things I could have handled better. He opened my eyes. Then we went about the week before Super Bowl week as if it were any other game. We didn't paint the Super Bowl logo on the practice field or anything like that. We stuck with the theme of the program: Every game is a championship opportunity. He's been preparing us for this moment so we won't even notice we're playing in the Super Bowl.

10. If I could turn back the clock ... Maybe I deserved that $7,875 fine [for taunting] under today's rules. But the NFL once allowed players to live in the moment and be entertainers. I may have been wrong in my gestures, but if I had to do it all again, I'd do some of the same things. It was a big moment, and it was how I felt at the time.

The MMQB

The Seahawks' cornerback wonders: If he looked more acceptable to conservatives, would his rant after the NFC championship game have been understood as passion?

Want to hear more from Richard Sherman?

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PHOTOROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ILLUSTRATION

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