Richard Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he might be most in his element at a podium.
The 49ers cornerback is one of the league's best speakers, captivating reporters looking to fill notebooks and fans starved to hear something interesting from the players they follow whenever he addresses the media.
Our colleagues in content at NBC Sports Northwest celebrated Sherman's 32nd birthday on Monday by remembering his epic dismissal of then-49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree after the 2013 NFC Championship Game, but the veteran added to his canon of memorable interviews and social-media rants during his second season with the 49ers during the 2019 season. Here are his best in honor of the All-Pro taking another trip around the sun.
The handshake heard -- but not seen -- around the world
Sherman's 49ers stomped on the Cleveland Browns, the darlings of the NFL offseason, in Week 5 on "Monday Night Football." The win established San Francisco as For Real, but Sherman managed to grab the most headlines when he told NFL Media's Mike Silver that Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield didn't shake his hand before the game.
"What's amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning," Sherman told Silver. "That's some college s--t. It's ridiculous. We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent -- that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up."
That's not really what happened, either.
Video revealed that Mayfield did, in fact, shake hands with Sherman before the game, just not a second time. Sherman said he would apologize to Mayfield after the cornerback was caught in a lie, but still managed to turn the fiasco into ... an observation on sports-media priorities in 2019?
"I've said my piece about it," Sherman said in October. "I'm going to have a conversation with him, and then I'm kind of going to be done with it. It’s just funny it got so big. I thought the football game is what they watched for, but I guess it’s the soap opera."
Sherman becomes @OldTakesExposed
Sherman remembered everyone who criticized him signing an incentive-heavy contract with the 49ers as a free agent in 2018.
And I mean everyone.
There's much more nuance to Sherman's contract, as ESPN's Bill Barnwell expertly noted soon after Sherman's dunk session. Yet Sherman showed once again how unsparing he is when vindicated, and it wouldn't be the last time he relished proving people wrong during the 49ers' Super Bowl run.
In his zone
Sherman has long been knocked by critics for being a "zone" cornerback, who have argued that he can't guard the NFL's best receivers 1-on-1. The cornerback lit into those doubters after the 49ers' win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round, when Sherman intercepted Vikes QB Kirk Cousins to set up a San Francisco touchdown.
“People think I’m a zone [cornerback],” he said in January. “[It’s] man! Playoffs! Pick! Gotta have those. You know what I mean?
“But you know what [media] is going to do? They’re going to do what they always do to me. They’re going to make an excuse for why I’m great. They’re going to have an excuse. ‘Oh, it was Kirk Cousins!’ It’s always an excuse. But when somebody does it, it’s like, ‘He’s the best corner.’
“Look, Jalen [Ramsey] was [considered] the greatest corner. But I’m a system corner. We play in the same system! But I’m a system corner. You start to listen and it’s like, ‘Bro, they run the same scheme.’ Like, what are we talking about?”
You will be shocked to learn victory lap continued on Twitter.
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Corner vs. Corner
There are no two questions more boring than "Is Player X Elite?" and "Is Player Y Better Than Player Z?" Well, unless you happen to be one of Players X, Y or Z.
Longtime NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis sustained hours of sports-talk radio and debate television when he blasted Sherman on Twitter in the aftermath of the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers, drudging up the old criticism of Sherman not being good enough in man-to-man coverage.
Sherman, understandably, wasn't having it.
"You're going to have to get an interview with him and talk to him about it," Sherman said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "I really got nothing for him, but he seems to have too much time on his hands or something. I think it's one of those where a guy who thinks more of himself than the world thinks of him, feels like I'm getting more credit than I deserve or something like that. Obviously, his stats don't match my stats so he's trying to find other ways to make himself relevant in the conversation."
All professional athletes think they can stack up with the best their sport has to offer. Few are as vocal about it as Sherman.