A guided tour of Richard Sherman's best beefs
Richard Sherman, Legion of Boomer, Super Bowl champion, grudge-holder.
He has called out other players, Twitter trolls, team owners and the league.
The San Francisco 49ers cornerback has never been one to avoid a dispute, no matter how big. It’s part of his edge and his ability to find motivation. Challenging his opponents is part of how he went from a three-star recruit to Stanford to fifth-round draft pick to an All-Pro.
Now after being released by the Seattle Seahawks and signing with the Niners, he’s got a new motivation and grudge to hold — his old team and new division rival.
In honor of Sherman’s long history of beefs, here’s a tour of some of the best.
Other defensive backs
In February 2013, Revis became first cornerback to find himself in Sherman’s crosshairs. It started with Revis taking offense to Sherman, in a Q&A with his Twitter followers, not including the former defensive player of the year in his list of the league’s top cornerbacks.
“He didn’t play this year so when he does then he will be in it,” Sherman tweeted in reference to Revis missing all but two games in 2012 because of a knee injury.
Revis fired back, and the gloves came off.
@Revis24 don’t need ya name… Ur name will be irrelevant once u step back on the field bruh. Get ya picks up!
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) February 20, 2013
That’s like you saying your better then Deion Sanders & since he’s not playing no more he’s irrelevant for what he’s done. @rsherman_25
— Darrelle Revis (@Revis24) February 20, 2013
Sherman clapped back with his stats.
Sherman: “one season u will get 8 picks But it won’t happen anytime soon I did it in my 2nd season So u have something to chase”
Sherman: “Got off my flight to this hilarious convo. So I have 8 picks 3 ff and a sack. My season stats looking like Revis career stats”
“Women lie, men lie, numbers don’t lie” pic.twitter.com/nAOVwQsP
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 25, 2013
Revis: “This dude just interrupted my NBA 2k game cause he has draSms to be a lockdown corner!!! HAHA #keepdreaming”
Sherman: “lmao he living off reputation right now I’m living off performance. That’s why he’s mad ”
In 2014, Peterson got in on the fun when he went on a Phoenix radio station and said Sherman isn’t a shutdown corner. The two argued back and forth on Twitter about it, with Sherman posting an NFL Network graphic showing how his 2013 stats compare favorably to Peterson’s and Peterson posting a screen shot of a play in which Sherman was receiving safety help over the top.
Peterson: “That’s what I always see someone helping. Last I check a lockdown corner is when it’s him and WR.”
Sherman: “@RealPeterson21 wideouts regularly have career days on u. They ask u to stop them. Not let them score at will.”
Later that offseason, Peterson tweaked Sherman when he signed a contract extension worth $10,000 more per season than the one Sherman had signed a few months earlier.
This was Sherman’s reply.
Can’t ever be too mad lmao… pic.twitter.com/ZHA28B9Tji
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 30, 2014
Offensive stars and coaches
The first indication that Sherman wasn’t afraid to call out an opponent came in Week 8 of his rookie season in 2011. Injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond pushed Sherman up the depth chart, and his first start included an interception of Andy Dalton in a loss to the Bengals. Afterward, he called A.J. Green – a rookie at the time as well and the No. 4 overall pick that year – overrated.
“I would say he’s probably one of the most overrated receivers out there,” Sherman told Sports Radio 950 KJR. “He wasn’t anything special. Dalton was a good quarterback. He makes good decisions, but A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes.”
Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer: “I don’t even pay attention to that stuff. People are going to talk. He had a good game and he’s a good player. Between the lines I’m going to talk. If you’re going to talk to me I’m going to talk to you, but once it’s over I’m going to leave that there.”
In one other meeting with the Seahawks, Green caught six passes for 78 yards without a score.
If calling out Green was the first sign of Sherman’s trash-talking potential, what happened after a 2012 game against the Patriots showed that no player was safe. Not even Tom Brady.
Brady threw for 395 yards, but also had two interceptions, one by Sherman.
Sherman later said that he and Brady had been exchanging words throughout the game, claiming Brady told Sherman and Earl Thomas that he’d see them once it was over, when New England won.
When Seattle won, 24-23, it launched the now-famous meme.
(It’s believed that Sherman never actually said that to Brady).
“I kept saying I’m going to get that next time,” Sherman said. “Every TV timeout, I went up and said it right to [Brady]: ‘Please keep trying me. I’m going to take it from you.’ That was when they were winning. He just gave me that look and said, ‘Oh, I’ll see you after game.’ Well, I made sure I saw him after the game.”
Brady, perhaps, got the last laugh. He threw for 328 yards and four scores to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
Four days after “U MAD BRO,” the Seahawks lost a Thursday night game to the 49ers that gave San Francisco sole possession of first place in the NFC West. Seattle’s secondary, with Sherman and fellow cornerback Brandon Browner, had developed a reputation for physical play — overly physical, to some.
In response to a question of why Seattle’s defensive backs weren’t flagged more in the game (the Seahawks were assessed three penalties as a team), Harbaugh, the Niners coach at the time, said he planned to “take that up with the” NFL office. Sherman fired back.
“Sometimes, man, when the bully gets bullied, that’s how that happens,” Sherman told The Seattle Times. “He’s the same guy who said the other guy was irrational and ignorant for talking about the refs.”
“The other guy” Sherman referenced was Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who had complained that San Francisco’s Justin Smith “gets away with murder” in the way he holds offensive linemen.
Sherman played for Harbaugh at Stanford and the two clashed.
Harbaugh continued to irk Sherman and the Seahawks in 2013 when he made offseason comments about multiple Seahawks facing PED suspensions. Sherman would say after that that he doesn’t have a relationship with his former coach.
“I don’t have a relationship with him,” Sherman said in an interview with the NFL Network at the time. “I don’t try to go any route with him. I don’t deal with him; he is not my coach.”
It wouldn’t, however, be the last time Sherman would be in infamous dust-up with Harbaugh’s team.
A week after the Harbaugh beef began, the Seahawks were preparing to play the Lions. Sherman used the upcoming matchup with Calvin Johnson as an occasion to change his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime in reference to “The Transformers” character whose archrival is Megatron, which was Johnson’s nickname.
The change was noticed. Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, called Sherman in character to wish him luck against the Lions and Megatron, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
Johnson caught three passes and dropped two others to finish with 46 yards in the Lions’ victory.
“He wasn’t a factor. He hasn’t been much of a factor for them this season,” Sherman told 710 ESPN Seattle. “But the rest of their receivers stepped up, their running backs stepped up and they did a great job.”
Part of Sherman’s beef with Harbaugh’s 49ers were Sherman’s meetings with San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree.
It was the matchup that launched Sherman into the trash-talking, beef-having hall of fame.
It’s still not quite clear, more than four years later, what exactly Crabtree had said or done to cause Sherman to sound off on him in the moments after the NFC Championship Game in January 2014. But there was something.
An NFL Network episode of “SoundFX” showed Sherman telling Kam Chancellor at some point before the game’s decisive play, “They’re about to try me. They’re about to try me. I’m going to capitalize.”
When Colin Kaepernick tried Sherman with a fade to Crabtree in the southwest corner of the end zone at CenturyLink Field, he capitalized with one of the greatest plays in Seattle sports history — a tip that linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted to seal the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory and punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Sherman shouted something in celebration while being mobbed by teammates, his words muffled by the thermal mask he was wearing over his face. Then he abruptly sprinted across the end zone toward Crabtree, slapped him on the rear and said “Hell of a game! Hell of a game!” while extending his hand. Crabtree gave Sherman a dismissive shove to the face before an official separated the two.
Then came the interview heard ’round the world.
In a 2014 column for Sports Illustrated, Sherman wrote that his beef with Crabtree “goes back to something he said to me this offseason in Arizona, but you’d have to ask him about that. A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don’t like him.”
His own team
The first signs of Sherman’s increasingly testy relationship with the Seahawks came in 2016, when he lost his cool twice on the sidelines. The first was during an October win over the Falcons when Sherman and defensive coordinator Kris Richard got into a shouting match as Sherman was coming off the field after a busted coverage led to a long Atlanta touchdown.
Sherman later said he had no regrets about how he handled himself while Richard conceded that he could have been calmer.
Later, during a December win over the Rams, Sherman went off on coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after the Seahawks were nearly intercepted at the goal line (Russell Wilson then threw a TD pass).
Asked about it by reporters after the game, Sherman evoked the ending to Super Bowl XLIX when he said that the Seahawks have seen what happens when they throw from the goal line.
“I’m upset about us throwing from the 1,” Sherman said afterward. “I’d rather do what most teams would do, making a conscientious decision to run the ball.”
“Yeah, I was letting [Carroll] know. We’ve already seen how that goes,” Sherman said in reference to the gut-wrenching ending to Super Bowl XLIX, when Seattle’s hopes of a second straight title were dashed when Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson at the 1-yard line. “I’m sure you guys have seen that play enough times.”
Sherman later refuted Carroll’s account that Sherman had expressed regret over the incident when the two met the next morning and defended his actions as he did after the game. Sherman took exception to a question about the incident from Jim Moore of 710 ESPN Seattle. Sherman fired back in his response. Then on the way out, as Moore thanked him for his time, Sherman threatened to ruin his career and have his credential pulled.
Sherman’s weekly media conferences in Seattle never lacked for opinion or entertainment. With an assist from Doug Baldwin — his close friend and longtime teammate dating back to their days at Stanford — he used one 2014 session as the setting for a thoroughly rehearsed skit to pan perceived hypocrisy on the NFL’s part over its media requirements and endorsement rules.
Instead of Sherman answering questions from reporters, he had a conversation with a cardboard cutout of Baldwin, which was standing at a lectern that Baldwin was crouching behind.
Not long before this, the league had fined Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch $100,000 for shirking his media responsibilities. So Sherman, after introducing “Baldwin,” took issue with that first.
It became a masterwork of beefing. Sherman took aim at the NFL itself while vouching for player health and name-dropping soup, headphones and soda.
His new boss
While we can look ahead to Sherman’s first matchup with the Seahawks, it’s good to remember how high his beef with the 49ers went. All the way to the top.
During the halcyon days of the Seahawks-49ers rivalry, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler wrote that Jed York doesn’t own the 49ers, Richard Sherman does. That rivalry ran so deep that Sherman and York actually had each other blocked on Twitter.
Sherman didn’t only block York, either. He made it a point to block most 49ers fans who popped up in his mentions.
When Sherman signed with the 49ers in March, the feud ended, but it also began a great, therapeutic unblocking between the two sides.
I’m trying to find a way to unlock these niner fans. So if you have a friend that I have blocked tag them so I can get going on this. Please and Thank you
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) May 28, 2018
— Jed York (@JedYork) March 30, 2018
At the owners meetings in March, York declined to tell reporters what specifically led to them blocking each other, but he did say he’s happy to now be on the same side.
“There’s just a level of competition and that competitive spirit,” York said. “I’m happy to be fighting alongside him. But there was definitely a rivalry.
“At the end of the day, football is a business, but you have to figure out can you work with people who have different perspectives and different histories. And with Richard, he’s going to come in and be the consummate pro.”
So, as San Francisco is set to open the season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, one beef ends just in time to start a few more.