There’s always some drama with the Seattle Seahawks, so they’re used to it. But an ESPN story that portrayed a rift between the defense and quarterback Russell Wilson has touched a nerve.
The story described in detail, often through anonymous sources, how Seahawks players felt Wilson was being given preferential treatment. Specifically, cornerback Richard Sherman was cited as having a rocky relationship with Wilson.
Not only did Sherman deny there’s any problem, he went on a long rant about the story by Seth Wickersham. First, here’s Sherman on his relationship with Wilson:
“Oh, it’s fantastic. It’s fantastic,” Sherman said, according to the Seahawks’ transcripts. “We’re teammates. It’s like a family. It’s like everybody 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. And we have a great appreciation for how tough our quarterback is and what he has played through.”
The story as a whole? Sherman wasn’t happy. It was a long story that discussed how Sherman still hadn’t gotten over the Seahawks’ last-minute loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
“I think he’s just looking for attention, just like a lot of reporters are these days,” Sherman said.
Included in the story was a retelling of the time in 2014 that Sherman intercepted Wilson in practice and Sherman yelled at him. That part seemed to bother Sherman the most, because he discussed at length how the story could have been how the offense and defense are so competitive in practice and that was an example. That part is true: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is famous for preaching competition every day in practice.
“You can take one snapshot moment of a practice — of a team on their way to the Super Bowl — and say, ‘Wow, there must be discord there. Wow, they must be not going to the playoffs this year,'” Sherman said. “But he could have made a story about, ‘Wow, their offense and defense really go at it every day and really push themselves to the limits. And really celebrate the competitiveness and appreciated how great the team is, how great the locker room has to be for guys to be able to be that competitive on the field, then come into the locker room and have a fantastic relationship. But he didn’t, because he needed clicks, he wanted to make it controversial.”
It was certainly controversial. The Seahawks have been answering questions about it since it came out earlier this offseason. Wickersham is a respected reporter, clearly spent a lot of time reporting on the story, and it’s foolish to believe he made any of it up. There’s clearly something to the story. But Sherman’s response has merit too.
The stories about the Seahawks, and Wilson’s relationship with his teammates, have been swirling for a while. One Bleacher Report story in 2014 memorably said some Seahawks didn’t think Wilson was “black enough,” and Sherman referenced that too.
“There was one story saying somebody said the quarterback wasn’t black enough, these are jokes,” Sherman said. “We laugh about this in the locker room because it’s a complete joke. But in the public, it’s actually a story, because nobody can question it. Nobody really asks the question. If you asked us, ‘Did anybody say Russell wasn’t black enough?’ Of course not. Nobody even thought that. It’s hard enough being a black man in America. To question is somebody is black enough? It’s just laughable. It’s tough to continue to deal with that.”
Sherman, and others like Michael Bennett, have downplayed the story. Bennett said this week he has always liked Wilson, and Wilson is “a phenomenal human being.”
This might be a five-alarm fire for another team, but it’s not unusual for the Seahawks. They’re rarely boring.
“For some reason, false rhetoric is something that follows our team specifically,” Sherman said.
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