America, say hello to Richard Sherman. You'll be seeing -- and hearing -- a lot from him in the run-up to Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.
Actually, you've already seen and heard plenty from the Seahawks cornerback, who made the game-saving play in a 23-17 win over the 49ers in Sunday's NFC title game. His one-handed deflection of Colin Kaepernick's pass into the end zone became an interception with 22 seconds left that sent Seattle to the Super Bowl, and his postgame screeds at receiver Michael Crabtree put Sherman into the conversation for even the most casual fan.
For those unfamiliar with rants like this, relax. It's just the latest, albeit most publicized, of Sherman's colorful career. And there's some history behind it; in his weekly column for Sports Illustrated's MMQB.com, Sherman wrote that his feud with Crabtree dates to an offseason incident in which he said Crabtree made disparaging remarks.
Combine that with the elation of beating the 49ers by swatting away a pass meant for Crabtree and talking smack about him, and you have a YouTube clip that gets more than a million views within hours. His diatribe with Fox's Erin Andrews quickly became the most viewed sports item on Newsday.com.
The impending hype week now has its central figure, and the media horde will try to coax Sherman into more can't-miss comments. Then again, perhaps Sherman won't be so quick to use the Super Bowl as a personal promotional tool. He told ESPN's Ed Werder on Monday that he regretted taking attention away from Seattle's accomplishment and expressed remorse about going after Crabtree.
But given Sherman's history, it likely won't take much to draw a headline-grabbing quote or 10. Only three years into a career in which he has become arguably the best cover corner in the game, he hasn't been shy about self-promotion. Much of it is playful, although many consider some of his antics over the line.
Take his Twitter feud with Darrelle Revis last February. A fan asked Sherman to compare himself with the NFL's best corners, and Sherman noted that Revis had missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury ("he didn't play this year so when he does then he will be in it'').
Revis took the bait and replied, "I never seen a man before run his mouth so much like a girl. This dude just steady putting my name in his mouth to get notoriety.''
It escalated from there: "one season u will get 8 picks,'' tweeted Sherman, who had eight interceptions in 2012. "But it won't happen anytime soon . . . I did it in my 2nd season . . . So u have something to chase.''
Sherman also did a video for Bleacher Report during Super Bowl week last year, asking random fans in New Orleans if he or Revis was the better cornerback. Most fans didn't know it was Sherman, and they chose Revis and criticized Sherman. One fan wearing a 49ers cap said, "Sherman's too fat and slow, and he's a punk and he took drugs.''
Sherman laughed and introduced himself to the fan, who clearly was embarrassed and apologized. Sherman grinned, put his arm around him and said, "It's all good.''
So Sherman is very good at self-promotion, but he's also very good at self-deprecation. Even Revis got over the Twitter feud and has nothing against him.
Sherman has fans ripping him for not winning with class. And I get that. He didn't have to go off like that. But when you interview a player who hasn't had a chance to cool down, this is what you get sometimes. It is emotional and it is raw.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he wishes Sherman's words had come out differently, but he knows he isn't a bad guy. And Carroll's right. Sherman is a smart, thoughtful young man who likes to have fun and admittedly can get carried away.
He'll give us plenty to talk about these next two weeks. But when the Super Bowl is on the line, he'll do all his talking with his play. And that might just be good enough to get him a ring -- and further proof he can walk the walk after talking the talk.