Editor's note: Seahawks Richard Sherman met the media on Wednesday. Below is a transcript of his comments:
How would you characterize the battles you have in San Francisco?
Richard Sherman: There is no love lost; there is no love found. That’s how I’d characterize it. It’s going to be intense. It’s going to be physical. I don’t know if there are going to be handshakes after this one.
On if the hatred for the 49ers is a passionate hate. Is that a fair assessment of your feelings towards this team?
I don’t hate anybody. So I don’t think hate, but passion definitely. There will be some passion, some dislike, some strong dislike, but there will be some intensity. It’s playoff football. So even if we weren’t two teams that are familiar with each other, it’s playoff football so there is going to be a lot of intensity, a lot of chippiness, and a hard‑fought game.
How do you balance that emotion then, or how do you harness that emotion on the field?
We have championship opportunities every week, so it doesn’t change for us. Our aggression, our intensity is the same as it’s been. In practice, our practices are the same they’ve been. We’ve been going 100 percent competing, competing, and nothing has changed. We have the most intense competitors out there, and that is showing on the practice field, and it shows up on game day.
Where did the passion in this rivalry come from? When did it become no love lost, no love found?
I guess when both teams started to find success. I think if both teams were 4‑12, it wouldn’t be such an intense rivalry. But both teams are winning. They ended the season 12‑4, we ended the season 13‑3. Last year, they ended the season with a great record, we ended the season with a good record. That’s where you get rivalries when both teams are firing on all cylinders, both teams are winning big ballgames and you start to build those kind of rivals.
After Saturday’s game everyone said doesn’t matter who we play. But does it seem fitting that you two are left standing in the NFC?
I think the two best teams in the NFC are the ones that are here. I said that after the game that whatever team we played will be the best team and the team that deserves to get there. So they’ve worked hard. They’ve done everything. They’ve gotten past the injuries and overcome some adversity that’s hit their ballclub. They made it to this point, so they’re definitely very deserving.
There used to be this idea that to be a good NFL coach you had to be a hard butt, always screaming, 24/7 working. How different is that from what Pete shows and how different is he on a day‑to‑day basis?
He’s the polar opposite of that. He’s not soft, but he’s easygoing. He’s loose. As loose as you can get out there. He allows his players to be who they are within the confines of the team, as long as it doesn’t hurt the team, he allows guys to be themselves. If you’re a reserved guy that’s always focused, that’s always locked in that like an Earl Thomas is, he allows you to be that guy and be locked in 100% of the time.
If you’re a loose guy and you dance at practice like I do, he allows you to be that guy. As long as when you’re on the field you do exactly what you’re supposed to do. He allows guys to be who they are. Russell Wilson is an outgoing, incredible person, he allows him to be that. Everybody can be who they are within the scheme of the Seahawks and what we want to do.
It sounds great, but did you have to kind of adjust so you can win with this kind of coach?
No, no, it’s all some of us have known. It’s all some of us have ever known because when he came here he brought most of us in. He drafted us or brought us in from other teams. He brought us in from free agency a lot of guys. So I think there were only four guys left over from the old regime, but we don’t know anything else. We don’t know anything outside of the college coaches and high school coaches, that’s all we know of the NFL, this is what it is. Coach Pete lets you shoot baskets before meetings and have fun and enjoy the game. He makes the game a lot more fun than it used to be.
Did Harbaugh allow you to do that at Stanford, kind of be yourself out there?
A lot less so (laughing).
How is it for the secondary to be allowed to be physical with the wide receivers? The officials so far in the playoffs have been pretty good by not calling too many things?
I think that’s the way the game of football was built. I think when they came up with the rules and they first built the game and created the game, these rules weren’t in place. The game was allowed to be played physical, and that’s why you had so many run games. That’s an old school brand of football. I don’t know how old the rules are, but since these rules have come, you look up and every receiver, every play they could drop a wide‑open pass and turn around and look for a flag. I think that kind of ruins the game. That kind of ruins the intensity, the whole DNA of football and what it is if you see flags every single play.
So I think DBs playing physical is the way football should be. A lot of people want to see great offense. You see great offense all the time. People running through zones and guys not being able to cover them. We stand up there and have a dog fight every play. You know, there are going to be some pushing offs and grabbing here and there, and that is the game of football. That’s how it is. That’s how it’s always been. Ask the Michael Irvin’s of the world, the Jerry Rice’s who had to deal with those before these rules coming up. That is real football.
What have you guys done that’s been so problematic for Colin Kaepernick? What’s been so successful consistently for you guys?
Just playing ourselves, playing discipline, sound football. If you’re playing man‑to‑man, you’ve got your man. That’s who you deal with. You don’t try to help anybody else. Don’t try to look for anybody else. If you have a zone, that’s what you do. You get to your zone, drop, find a spot, find a man in your zone. Guys just playing discipline, sound football and not allowing them to scramble. That’s on our front four and front seven. Scheming it up, making sure he stays in the pocket. That is a discipline on their part making sure that everybody does their part from all three levels of the defense and that allows us to be effective.
Considering your sides, your ball skills, your cover skills and you’re a Stanford grad, how mind‑boggling is it for you that you went in the fifth round and does that still fuel your fire?
It’s incredibly mind‑boggling. Yes, it is, and it fuels me every single day. Every day I look at the write ups people wrote. They say he’s stiff. He has no ball skills. He has no explosion or instincts to play corner. I think about that every day. I look at the clippings. A lot of people are like don’t read your news clippings. I read them every day. Anything negative somebody said about me, I find it and use it as fuel. I use it to make the chip a little bit bigger. So things like All Pros, Pro Bowls and all these awards don’t mean as much because you’re focused on the chip and staying hungry.
In keeping with that spirit, Kevin Gilbride the Giants offensive coordinator said you guys had perfected the art of the defensive back field. Are you a perfect hold?
I think we cover more than we hold. I think he’s a guy that’s a little bit bitter. His team didn’t score any points in that game, so you find a way to explain that to save your job.
How hard was it at Stanford for you to keep Richard Sherman bottled up?
Well, you just don’t say as much. You keep it simple. Do you think you guys are going to win? I think it’s going to be a tough battle. You shorten your answers. You make sure that it doesn’t get too elongated. You don’t go long-winded. You keep everything short.
Were there times when you wanted to say something?
Definitely. All the time. But you learn and you know your boundaries and you stay within them.
On how will they handle the trash talk and chippiness that will happen Sunday and with Anquan Boldin being a talker do you get caught up in that?
No, we didn’t get caught up in the moment. We have a disciplined football team that understands the intensity of the moments and it’s playoff football, so we’ll deal with it well. You go out there and compete, and if that’s how he competes, then, yeah, we’ll deal with it. But you don’t have to head butt him and do all this crazy stuff to react to him. You know what I’m saying? You slow him down and you stop him. If you don’t want him in your face every day, don’t let him touch the ball.
Your mom has become quite a bit celebrity with the 12th Man. What’s it mean to you to see her bask in the success of you and the team?
It’s funny to me. I really find humor in it because people think I’m a big personality, my mom is probably ten times as big as I am, man. She’s the brains behind the whole outfit. But I love it, man. I think anything that makes her happy if that’s what she enjoys and that’s what floats her boat, then I’m happy for it. Everybody seems to enjoy her. I’m glad everybody gets to enjoy my mom as much as I do.
This is a championship opportunity, but have you allowed yourself for two minutes to stop and think holy cow we’re playing for the NFC Championship?
I haven’t. That’s what a lot of people have told me to do. They’re like, man, you don’t know how many times you’re going to get this opportunity, so sit there and embrace it and enjoy it. We don’t have time for that. This isn’t the end goal. There is no time to enjoy it. Now, if we’re fortunate enough to make it to next week, we might sit there and think, man, we’ve made it to the big game. But we’re not at the big game, so we’re locked in.
Courtesy Seattle Seahawks media services