During his time in Seattle, Richard Sherman was very visible.
Sherman might have been the villain, but he was the face of a perennial Super Bowl contender. He was the leader of the Legion of Boom.
It's hard for a defensive player to earn the distinction of face of the team or face of the NFL. That honor is usually reserved for quarterbacks.
But is there a young defensive player currently in the NFL that could develop into the face of the NFL? Yes, according to former 49ers practice squad player and current Houston Texans defensive back Michael Thomas.
And that player just happens to be New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who the 49ers have their eyes on.
"I think I want to see defensive players have the same marketability and opportunities as the “faces of the league” as offensive players," Thomas wrote as the guest writer for NBC Sports' Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column. "Richard Sherman is probably the closest thing we have. He built that larger-than-life persona at the height of the Legion of Boom in Seattle and that’s the sort of thing we need. The bigger a player like Richard Sherman is, the better it will be for the next generation of defensive superstars, like a Jamal Adams, so that they can continue to grow their marketability and raise their platform."
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Adams is unhappy with his current contract situation in New York, and has requested a trade. The Jets still have two years of team control over Adams, so they aren't exactly inclined to trade the All-Pro.
The big difference between Sherman and Adams is that the current 49ers cornerback has a very outgoing personality. For someone who plays in The Big Apple, Adams' persona isn't exactly well known. Can he be the face of the NFL? Yes, he wants the big contract that comes with being an elite player, but does he want that title of "Face of the NFL?"
"Obviously that persona has to come with performing on the field, and that’s why I think Jamal Adams is probably the next big thing who could fill that outsized role after Richard Sherman," Thomas wrote. "His productivity on the field is there. I don’t know what exactly the hype looks like – maybe it’s commercials, like Troy Polamalu with the hair, or maybe it’s getting to the point where, like Sherm, he’s big enough to make it on the cover of Madden. Whatever it is, I just want that for our defensive players, that shine, visibility and compensation, even if it means leaning in to that role as a villain."
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The good news for Adams is that he's still just 24 years old and is entering his fourth NFL season. He still has time to build his public persona and grow into a potential "Face of the NFL."
And if the 49ers can figure out how to fit Adams' salary onto their roster, he can do it while playing with Sherman.
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