Ronnie Lott knows what it's like to switch sides of a rivalry. The Hall of Fame defensive back spent his first 10 years in the NFL leading the 49ers' defense.
And then in 1991, he changed colors and went to Raiders Silver and Black. This season, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman is in the same situation.
Sherman went from seven seasons on the Seahawks, to joining the 49ers this season. On Sunday, he'll face his former team for the second time in the last three weeks.
"I can tell you right now, when we played the 49ers and I was with the Raiders, I was like, you know what, I have to play even harder because of how much I care about how I play around Charles Haley and all the other guys that I played with," Lott said Friday morning on KNBR.
The game has changed, but respect is still at center of emotions. Perhaps nobody played the game harder than Lott in his day or even in the history of the game. When he went against his old team, he was laying it all on the line to show what everyone in the organization will always mean to him.
"The sweetest thing in life is to go out and play your hardest against your best friends. And the reason that it's the sweetest thing in life is that that that's the ultimate compliment," Lott said. "The ultimate compliment is to be able to pay your respects to things and to the people who came before you and were part of you and helped you get to where you got to."
Sherman received a warm homecoming in Seattle when the 49ers were trounced 43-16 in Week 13. All it took was two weeks for the sparks to be lit though.
Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark quipped Sherman's "opinion really doesn't matter," to which the veteran cornerback said the comments "didn’t bother me at all." Talk is talk though. At the end of the day, all that matters is what happens on the field.
"Despite all this other stuff, you want to be able to walk across the field, shake their hands and go, 'Hey Pete, you know what, love you, you gave me everything, but man, I gave you something today too.' That's about how much you care about him," Lott said.