RENTON, Wash. – Pete Carroll looked to a Seahawks staffer with a bemused expression as he continued to field questions about a player who is no longer part of Seattle’s locker room.
“Pretty good love-fest for Sherm,” Carroll quipped.
Richard Sherman’s impending return to Seattle this week has dominated the conversation and will dominate the attention leading into Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Sherman’s new team, San Francisco. For good reason, too. Sherman remains one of the central figures in Seattle’s success during Carroll’s tenure that included the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.
Yet, his time in Seattle ended with a messy separation this past offseason. It was a business decision that ultimately led to Sherman finding a new home in San Francisco. And while the relationship between Sherman and the Seahawks was at times contentious, there was respect for what he helped the franchise accomplish.
“We had tremendous conversations all the way through the stages of what happened at the end,” Carroll said. “Sherm and I were sitting in my office eye-to-eye talking through everything and it was really straightforward and clear and he was handling his own business and he had to be really on top of it, which he was, and did a fantastic job for himself, too. But our communication was great.”
Sherman was a three-time All-Pro during his seven seasons in Seattle. He developed from a lightly regarded fifth-round pick into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, an anchor for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary that’s now been completely taken apart due to departures and injuries. Sherman seemed to always find his way into the center of attention, whether it was talking smack to Tom Brady after beating the Patriots in a 2012 regular-season game, antics directed toward Michael Crabtree after the 2013 NFC championship game, or barking at coaches on the sideline.
It was clearly time for a change and it included some critical comments Sherman had for Carroll on his way out. Carroll said he wasn’t bothered.
“I know who Sherm is. I know him way differently than you guys probably think I do. I think the world of him,” Carroll said. “There was times (when) he was here where he might have said something that I didn’t agree with and had to work through it and all that. He is his own man. He was a stud of a guy when he was here and whatever came out in the transition came out. I could care less about that.”
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin thinks of Sherman as a mentor. When Griffin arrived last year as a rookie, Sherman became a guide to Griffin on how to be a pro.
“I didn’t expect him to take me under his wing the way he did. That was all a surprise to me but I’m grateful that he did,” Griffin said. “I came in, he had open arms for me and whatever it took. I remember he told me, ‘I won’t give you so much you can’t handle unless I know you can.’ I remember after the first couple of games he was like, ‘You know what, I see you’re ready. I’m going to give you everything I know and we’re going to go from there.’ It’s not like he got paid to do stuff like that. He doesn’t. So you can tell he’s really a genuine guy.”
Bobby Wagner joked there will likely be a lot of trash talking and that he won’t let Sherman get an interception even if that means coming off the sideline to make sure it doesn’t happen. Wagner became serious when asked about what kind of reception Sherman should receive. Sports radio has been filled with questions about whether Sherman should be lauded or booed upon his return.
“He should be received with the loudest cheer they could possibly cheer and the warmest of welcomes. It’s not like he said, ‘I hate this team, I want to leave.’ There is a business side of everything,” Wagner said. “I would be surprised if anybody booed. If they did boo him they weren’t a Richard Sherman fan in the first place. I think he deserves the applause. He was part of the team that helped bring the city the first football championship. I wouldn’t expect anything other than respect.”
Notes: LB K.J. Wright is “away from the team” this week doing rehab on his troublesome knee that has caused him to miss the past two games, Carroll said. Wright will not play this week. … Seattle activated RB J.D. McKissic to the 53-man roster. McKissic had been out all season after suffering a foot injury in the preseason and was placed on injured reserve. He returned to practice last week.
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