Seattle 'Legion of Boom' poised to explode
Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks addresses the media at the Westin Hotel on January 26, 2014 in Jersey City, New Jersey - by Elsa
A week after a heated post-game trash-talk tirade on television and giving the choke sign to opponents, Sherman and the Seahawks arrived in the New York suburbs for the National Football League championship spectacle eager to put the controversy behind him.
"It's all going to come down to who plays the best football, so none of that is going to be relevant," Sherman said.
Relevant or not, the dreadlocked defender's comments received plenty of attention after some critics called him a thug, which he said he saw as a racial insult, adding: "I know some thugs and they know I am the furthest thing from a thug."
Sherman, 25, who already has a commercial based on the thug controversy, added: "People don't like you to ruffle feathers and go against the understood. People don't like it when you go against the grain."
Sherman, a Stanford University graduate, led the NFL this season with eight interceptions on a Seahawks defense that led the NFL with 28 pickoffs and allowed league lows of 14.4 points and 172 pass yards a game.
And Seattle's defensive backs take their hard-hitting nickname seriously.
"Legion of Boom, it has brought us together as a secondary, as a family and a brotherhood," Sherman said. "We try to be the spark plug. We try to be the energy.
"We boom. You've got Kam Chancellor out there who's probably the most physical safety in the league. He booms. He's the enforcer in the Legion of Boom. Earl Thomas is a speed demon. Byron Maxwell makes plays every game."
They will be tested by a Denver Broncos attack led by Peyton Manning that set records for one-season scoring, pass yardage and passing touchdowns.
"Our team relishes it as much as anybody," Sherman said. "We want to go against the team that has thrown the most touchdowns, the best offense. It's going to be a battle of wills. If we see the looks we're looking for, we will definitely be aggressive.
"They had a heck of a season. We've got our own accolades and awards. None of it means anything when you get between those lines."
Sherman, who grew up on the tough streets of Compton in suburban Los Angeles, says he is simply "just a guy trying to be the best, a guy that wants to help his team win and a fiery competitor.
"A guy that's come from humble beginnings and came from a place not a lot of people make it out of. I'm just trying to affect the world in a positive way."
Sherman said he sees the "thug" controversy as having a beneficial impact.
"I want people to understand that everybody should be judged by their character and who they are as a person, and not by the color of their skin," Sherman said.
"I think that's something we've worked to get past as a nation, as a country and we're continuing to work on it. It's healthy. Everything that happened, it ends up turning around to be a positive because it opens up discussion and people begin to get more educated."