By Kimberly Jones
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Predictably, his podium was the most crowded, by far, during Seahawks media day on Tuesday at Prudential Center. He arrived early and stayed late, and Richard Sherman enjoyed every minute of it.
Including when asked if he had any words of wisdom for Justin Bieber. Yes, the troubled pop star.
“I don’t,” a laughing Sherman said. “I don’t.”
Media day is the day for questions like that one. We’re not sure there’s any place for another, more bizarre query of Sherman — one that presumed “all of you football guys” have thrown money in strip clubs and asked how to deal with the issue of young women who “need to be strippers” — but it was also asked.
Sherman gave the following response: “Well, I’ve never gone into a strip club and thrown money, so I couldn’t tell you. I guess trying to understand that there are other avenues, there are other ways you can make money, that women can do anything they want in this world. You can go out there and be a CEO of a company. Like I said before, the same can be said for kids in the inner city — the ceiling is limitless and don’t limit yourself to those possibilities and those circumstances.”
Sherman led the league with eight interceptions and is the best cornerback in the league. But he knows he is defined by many as the guy ranting for 20 seconds, WWE-style, in a postgame interview with Erin Andrews.
“I think if I had had more time after the game to think things over, it would have been better articulated, obviously,” Sherman said Tuesday. “A lot lower tone, lower volume, it would have been (a) clearer, more concise message. And I think the criticism would have been less.”
Sherman is a Stanford graduate who grew up hard, in Compton, to parents who were determined that their children would beat the odds. His father is a trash collector who still rises before dawn, his mother works with disabled inner-city children.
Sherman is bright, articulate and seems to be universally liked and respected by his teammates. And he’s given New York tabloid headline writers little material this week. Hence, Monday’s screamer in the New York Daily News: “The Mouth That Bored.”
“I think I let some people down the first day I got here, and I didn’t go controversial, because I don’t play to anybody else’s drum, I’m not anybody’s puppet, you’re not gonna just get controversial things,” he said. “I’m gonna be myself every time — good, bad or indifferent. And it’s not always gonna be entertaining, it’s not always gonna be the sound bite that you want.”
Perhaps those who have labeled Sherman a clown or a thug were listening and actually heard what he said during media day. We’re not counting on it.
PEYTON’S PLACE: As you would expect, Peyton Manning drew the biggest podium crowd during Broncos media day and he didn’t disappoint. His answers were thorough and accommodating. When an 83-year-old lady in a Broncos No. 18 jersey asked for a hug, Manning stepped off the podium to give her a hug.
Manning is at home here. He’s used to almost every question, including those about his future. Especially those about his future. Manning said he’s been asked about his legacy since he was 25.
“I’m still in the middle of my career,” he added, which drew an audible gasp of “middle!” from a reporter.
“Let me rephrase that,” Manning said, with a laugh. “I’m down the homestretch of my career, but I’m still in it. It’s not over yet. And so it’s still playing out. This has been the second chapter of my career.”
Manning, who turns 38 in March, has made clear that he plans to keep playing after the season, though he’ll seek doctor’s advice after four neck surgeries. But he hasn’t sounded this week like a guy who would ride off into the (endorsement-laden) sunset should the Broncos win, as Ray Lewis, Jerome Bettis, Michael Strahan and John Elway did as Super Bowl champions.
Plus, the guy has thrown 59 touchdowns against 11 interceptions this season (including playoffs) and hasn’t been sacked in the postseason. Why would he possibly walk away?
“SKITTLES” SCRAMMED: It’s now crystal clear that talking isn’t Marshawn Lynch’s thing. He spoke at media day for just over six minutes – each team’s session lasts an hour – including a TV interview with Deion Sanders for NFL Network. (A transcript indicates Sanders asked 19 questions and Lynch replied with a grand total of 168 words.)
“He doesn’t feel comfortable in settings like this,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “And he doesn’t like to do things he’s told to do. Fortunately that hasn’t been a factor for our football team. But in this setting, he becomes something of a recluse and he doesn’t want to be part of it. We try to respect him as much as we can.”
We’re not sure how much anyone besides the media cares about this sort of thing, and that includes Seahawks fans. They only care if his runs hard and gets impossible yards. Lynch does.
For the record, Lynch wasn’t fined for his media-day behavior. A league spokesman said, “Players are required to participate and he participated.”
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