YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Nine seasons after being drafted in the fifth round, that chip on that landed squarely on Richard Sherman’s shoulder has yet to move.
The 49ers veteran cornerback may have changed team colors and employers but the motivation remains the same. It almost seems that Sherman enjoys the fact that his demise has been greatly exaggerated.
“When you get picked in the fifth round it’s the ultimate lack of respect,” Sherman said. “I don’t think you ever lose that no matter how much success you have, no matter how many accolades.”
It’s been five years since the Sherman has received All-Pro honors and three since he has attended a Pro Bowl. Those goals are not only in his sights, but they are also incentives in his contract.
Sunday’s pick-six in Tampa was a just a step on Sherman’s path back from the Achilles injury that cut short his final season with the Seahawks. It was his first interception as a member of the 49ers after tallying 32 over his seven seasons in Seattle.
Week 1 was also a step in regaining the respect that Sherman feels has waned since he was a member of the "Legion of Boom." He recognizes the shortened attention span of the NFL audience but that doesn’t mean he agrees with it.
“They way people judge corners is so hot and cold,” Sherman said. “They are always looking for a new person to crown. I don’t think we have enough people respecting the guys who have done it for eight, nine, ten years.
“I’ve seen every one-hit wonder, I’ve seen every flash in the pan. And then next year the guy is non-existent, and you just play through all that.”
Opposing quarterbacks, however, clearly still respect Sherman as he was rarely tested on the field in 2018. Sherman’s value as a mentor and on-field coach to the young secondary -- Ahkello Witherspoon in particular -- might be his most important contribution.
Sherman, however, doesn’t want his leadership qualities to be what he is most recognized for. Sunday was his first interception returned for a touchdown since 2013 and it inspired him to quote his favorite artist, Drake, on social media.
“I was a cold dude, I’m getting back to my ways” -Drake pic.twitter.com/ZYaUuctDPC— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 9, 2019
Sherman has spoken about feeling much improved after the staples were removed from his ankle in February. Sunday’s performance allowed him to announce his return publicly. It proved to himself and fans alike that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
“I needed to put it on tape and make an impact on the game and be able to change the game in a way that I’m used to doing.”
Hopefully for 49ers fans, Week 1 was only the beginning.