Before any postseason accolades had been handed out, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman knew two things.
One, he knew that the possibility of a four-game suspension could keep him from earning Pro Bowl honors despite being one of the NFL’s best at his position, and two, he knew there were bigger accolades to be had even if he was snubbed by Pro Bowl voters.
“It don’t mean nothing,” Sherman said last month when asked about possibly being left out of the Pro Bowl. “I bet you I’ll be on the first-team All-Pro. That means more to me.”
And Sherman was right. Despite winning his appeal, Sherman was left off of the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster, almost certainly in part because Pro Bowl voting occurred before Sherman had his name cleared, but on Saturday he and three other Seahawks – safety Earl Thomas, running back Marshawn Lynch and center Max Unger – earned a more prestigious honor, being named first-team All-Pros.
Unlike the Pro Bowl, which names separate teams from the NFC and AFC, the All-Pro team is more exclusive, picking its offense and defense from the entire NFL. Sherman, who somehow was not voted one of the top three corners in the NFC, appeared on 39 of 50 All-Pro ballots, the most of any cornerback in the league.
The All-Pro honor is a first for Sherman, Lynch and Unger, while Thomas gets first-team honors a year after being named a second-team All-Pro.
“That is taking individuals and saying they are the best in the NFL at that position and that’s what I wanted to be,” Sherman told the Associated Press. “The Pro Bowl is taking three from each side, it’s more of a popularity contest. The All-Pro, you’re the best at your position. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fifth-rounder or fourth-rounder or undrafted. If you play the best, you’re All-Pro.”
Lynch, who rushed for a career-best 1,590 yards, was one of two running backs chosen along with Adrian Peterson, who was a unanimous pick. Thomas was the top vote-getter at safety, and was joined on the first team by San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson, a University of Washington product. Chicago’s Charles Tillman was the other first-team cornerback. Seattle’s four All-Pros matched the 2005 team for the most in franchise history.
That season, left tackle Walter Jones, left guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Shaun Alexander and fullback Mack Strong all earned first-team honors. The 49ers were the only team with more All-Pro selections than Seattle, placing six players on the first-team.