Richard Sherman is a wealthy man now, his financial future having been properly taken care of by the Seahawks with Wednesday’s four-year contract extension reported to be worth $40 million in guaranteed money.
He is a well-respected man, recognized by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2014, invited recently to the Harvard Business School to sit on a panel, recognized by President Obama during his speech at the Correspondents’ Dinner.
He’s a community-involved man, savoring the expanded platform that his growing fame has given him to help struggling youth.
“I want to change the discussion, the discourse, and give those kids aspirations for other things,’’ he said. “Be doctors, lawyers, be deep into the world of academia, be in the educational field. Show them success in other spheres of life.”
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And he’s a decorated man, the Pro Bowls and All-Pro honors having been buttressed by the Super Bowl triumph that still brings a glow to Renton.
It’s heady stuff – “surreal,” in Sherman’s words Wednesday at his buoyant news conference — and indicative of the challenge facing the entire Seahawks team.
Namely: How do you stay hungry and driven when everything in your world is going so well? Can you keep the chip on your shoulder when your shoulder is draped in an Armani suit?
Sherman, typically, addressed that question head on, with humor and hubris, but tinged with humility. Not many people are capable of making that combination sound so reasonable.
Sherman admitted the offseason has been “a whirlwind” and “filled with a lot more obligations and opportunities.” But he insisted that focusing on football, and conjuring up motivation, will not be an issue for him. He might be rich and recognized, but that doesn’t mean he’ll get fat and sassy.
“I’m still the guy scrapping for a spot,’’ he said. “You never lose that mentality. You can take a ragged dog that has been living on the streets for 10 years and put him in a brand new house with steak and lobster every night, and he’s still the ragged dog that you got off the streets.
“So I’m still the raggedy dog off the street. That mentality isn’t something that I can change. Even if I wanted to. It’s not a switch that I have. I’ve always been in this mentality, so I don’t know anything else. This is how I’m going to be until I hang the cleats up. Then I might try to eat caviar and drink or whatever they do.”
Sherman says he’ll be fueled until the day he retires by the pain of dropping to the fifth round of the draft (though Pete Carroll made a point of telling the crowd, during the news conference, “He was higher on our board than the fifth round. Just so you know that, Richard. John (Schneider) knew to wait it out … but you were higher than this fifth thing that always kills you.”
But mostly, what will drive Sherman — and the Seahawks hope it extends to everyone else — are more esoteric factors. Like the pursuit of excellence. Like not letting down your teammates. Like continuing to show that he is the best at his position, when so many will be aiming to knock him from that perch.
“Money didn’t motivate me before; it’s not going to motivate me now,’’ he said. “It’s a drive to be great, it’s a drive to win, it’s a drive to want to make it to the Hall of Fame. You never want to put bad tape on film.”
Sherman brought up the Notorious B.I.G. song, “Mo Money, Mo Problems,’’ and then summarily dismissed the sentiment.
“For some reason, I don’t believe that logic,’’ he said.
Maybe it’s because he can imagine what it would be like having to face Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell and Bobby Wagner if he proved to be the weak link in a crushing defeat.
“You can’t let guys like that down,’’ he said. “You don’t want to go up to them the next day and be like, ‘Aw, man, I Iet us down.’ I wouldn’t have wanted to go to them the next day if I had given up a touchdown in the NFC Championship to lose it.”
Sherman still hears people “talking smack like we didn’t win the Super Bowl, so we have to shut them up again.”
He knows that other teams’ secondaries are trying to topple the Legion of Boom.
He doesn’t like their chances (“It’s a long way to catch up because we’re still going”) but the ever-present footsteps off in the distance are welcome.
Indeed, they’re necessary. Sherman and the rest of the champion Seahawks might have to look harder now, and dig deeper, to find the slights and challenges that push them.
But Sherman expects them all to be fully in ragged-dog mode, no matter how plush are the trappings of success.
“It’s not like we’re sitting there content with where we are,’’ he said. “We’re always pushing the envelope. We’re pushing it as far as we can. We won’t stop until the body stops. And our bodies are pretty in shape.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry