Seahawks Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett on Wednesday defended QB Russell Wilson in comments to the media.
One of the favorite pregame phrases the Seahawks’ secondary uses to hype themselves up is for one player to ask “who’s got my back?” and the rest respond with “I’ve got your back.’’
When it comes to quarterback Russell Wilson, two of the most prominent Seahawk defensive players — Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett — publicly lived up to that saying Wednesday, each refuting that there is any divide between Wilson and the defense.
An ESPN article published last month that focused primarily on Sherman claimed that some players feel Wilson is coddled by the organization, which has helped lead to friction between the quarterback and the defense.
Sherman, in his first comments to Seattle media since last season, said his relationship with Wilson is “fantastic.’’
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“We’re teammates,’’ Sherman said. “It’s like a family. It’s like everyone else in a family, we fight for one another just like I’m fighting for the other 52 guys out there. I’m fighting for him and he’s fighting for us. We have a great appreciation for how tough our quarterback is and what he has played through. Last year he played through a number of injuries and he’s not doing that just because ‘Ah man I’ve got to go out there and it’s a job.’ He’s doing that for the guys next to him and we appreciate that, and we think he is a great quarterback.
“But it doesn’t matter what we say. It doesn’t matter what we say at the end of the day because we could say that until the cows come home, but one guy says he has a story and he’s heard a rumor about this, about somebody down the way saying something and that is the truth.”
Asked about the specific claim that some players feel Wilson is treated differently by the Seahawks, Sherman said he feels it’s “a made-up story’’ and that quarterbacks inevitably hold a different place in any NFL organization.
“You could literally say that about any team, any quarterback,’’ Sherman said. “You could say ‘well, the Patriots probably think Tom Brady gets treated differently than everybody else.’ ’’
As Sherman said that, Bennett — waiting for his turn to speak — said “he does,’’ eliciting laughter from Sherman.
“But it would be a legitimate claim,“ Sherman continued. “You could make a legitimate claim; you could make this exact same story out of just about any of the teams in the playoffs and a couple that weren’t in the playoffs last year. Any competitive team that has a great offense and great defense, Super Bowl teams, Atlanta and New England — freaking Green Bay, I guarantee you.’’
Sherman appeared to make reference to a central anecdote in the ESPN article that he once told Wilson “you (expletive) suck’’ after picking off a pass in a minicamp practice three years ago.
“We play a violent, adrenaline-infused game that takes everything you’ve got, and, in order to play it at a high level, you’ve got to give everything you’ve got,’’ Sherman said. “To catch us on the field and try to make a story out of some nonsense like that is laughable, but it’s also the unfortunate time that we are in I guess.’’
Bennett, asked a question about an earlier statement he had made about recently eating dinner at Wilson’s house, segued immediately into a defense of Wilson.
“I like Russell Wilson,’’ Bennett said. “I’ve always liked Russell Wilson. I think Russell Wilson is a phenomenal human being, not just as an athlete but as a leader in the community. The issues that he is dealing with, the things that he does, how he carries himself, the professional that he is, how he does everything for the organization, how he has played through injuries and just him as a man, I think Russell Wilson is the perfect quarterback our team. He’s the perfect leader. I think everybody on our team sees that.’’
Bennett reiterated what Sherman said, that quarterbacks are inevitably treated somewhat differently due to the importance of their position.
“I think the media wants to build a story around why Russell gets more attention,’’ he said. “When I was the quarterback in the seventh grade, sixth grade, I used to get more Lunchables than everybody. I got more jelly beans than everybody because I was the quarterback. That’s just how things go. Quarterbacks are seen, and they are the organization. If you look at any team in the NFL if there is a defensive player that is the face or your organization you are not winning the Super Bowl — that’s the fact. Any team that has a great quarterback and the quarterback is the face of the organization, that is a playoff team. You can’t show me any different. So I think everything he gets he deserves.’’