I'm 62, the same age as Pete Carroll... In 2005 I left a full-time law practice in Seattle to invest time in kids from broken homes (or with NO home). This summer my grandson and I ran into Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom. They were water-skiing and having fun over at Lake Chelan. Those few moments with the Seahawk secondary was the highlight of our summer!
That day in July 2013 Richard Sherman clearly 'predicted' that the Hawks would win the SuperBowl. His enthusiasm was not only dazzling, but well-grounded in preparation. When I was introduced to Kam Chancellor, I first assumed he was a defensive end (he's HUGE). Earl Thomas' brand of confidence was quieter, but penetrating. I filed the memory away for January 2014.
Greater than their boastful prediction of a Superbowl win was their interest in my 14 year old grandson and in kids in general. All three (Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor) gravitated quickly to discussing the 'real' issues of life... and how football can be a medium to help inner city kids. That's what impressed me most: yes.... they are winners: at football, but in life. Richard Sherman talked a lot more about his dreams to help kids than of himself.
Attached is a narrative written before the Super Bowl, of the July 2013 'guarantee' by Sir Richard and the Legion of Boom.
A July 2013 SUPERBOWL Prediction: By Richard Sherman & The Legion of Boom
(from Chelan, Washington)
Cedric (age 14): "Grandpa: Look... there's a van with some Seahawks"
Grandpa: "What makes you think there's Seahawks in Chelan?"
Cedric: "The van says: ‘BEAST-MOBILE', Grandpa"
Grandpa: "Lots of vans have Seahawk stuff, Cedric... Let's get down to the park, it must be
100 outside. The lake is waiting!"
My two grandsons, Cedric (age 14) and Aramis (age 9) were spending several days with my wife and me at our cabin in Winthrop .... a wanna-be cowboy town of 400 in the North Cascade mountains of central Washington state. It was July. .The weather had been blazing hot all week... 90s and low 100s. Our foursome was driving through the town of Chelan, gateway to Lake Chelan (a 50 mile long lake offering a green grass for sitting and cool waters for swimming). Chelan is a long-hour from Winthrop and a nice escape from the parched brown hills surrounding Winthrop in the summertime.
While driving through Chelan, my teen-age grandson (Cedric) spotted what he believed to be ‘SEAHAWKS'. I practice law in nearby Wenatchee, the self-proclaimed ‘APPLE-CAPITAL' of the World. Formerly I had taught "Logic and Critical Thinking" at a small university. I found Cedric's claim:
Cedric was persistent. He argued his case well and without pause. It seemed that the only way I could silence Cedric was to return to the site of the BEAST-MOBILE and disprove his theory. Aramis and Grisela were content to wade in the lake and wait for our return before diving into the sandwiches and potato salad. Cedric and I reentered our car in search of Seahawks. The BEAST-MOBILE van was no longer in sight. I parked the car close to the Ruby Theatre and we walked to Tin Lilly's Restaurant. We ventured in to the garden terrace outside the small restaurant and bar. Cedric walked next to me, until I approached a tall African-American man who was obviously busy on his cell phone. My grandson retreated as I advanced.
The tall stranger had his back towards me. I continued my advance. He appeared to be doing a radio interview via cell phone. Cedric's claim was gaining credibility. The tall stranger completed his call. I approached to introduce myself (and Cedric). Cedric retreated further (apparently thinking: ‘what is Grandpa doing'). My dialogue with the tall stranger commenced:
Grandpa: "Excuse me sir, my grandson thinks he saw some Seahawks here.... Were there Seahawks here?"
Stranger: "There were", he remarked, meeting me eye to eye and smiling warmly.
Grandpa: "Are you a Seahawk"
Stranger: "I am", he proclaimed with an obvious tone of pride in his voice.
I paused. Cedric was right. Some Seahawks had invaded Chelan!! I let my Seahawk memories of last season play on the screen in my mind..... Was it?Could it be?
Grandpa: "Are you Richard Sherman?" I inquired, with a cautious sense of certainty.
Stranger: "That would be me", he remarked, smiling broadly, then turning to face Cedric.
I introduced Cedric to Mr. Sherman, quickly pointing out to Sir Richard that Cedric was my grandson, age 14, and himself an emerging football player. I sensed that Cedric was a little amazed that I was talking to Richard Sherman as if he was just another human being. I think Cedric was even more amazed that the Seahawk cornerback was so approachable; talking to us as if we were also ‘human beings'!
Cedric was right. There are Seahawks in town!
Two minutes is a long time to hold the attention of a ‘star'. Five minutes is an eternity. Yet there he was, ...THE Richard Sherman, without any other audience, giving us his full attention. He asked Cedric about his life... about his football experiences. He asked us why we were in Chelan and where we lived. He seemed genuinely interested in us. I shared with him that I practiced law part-time now, but that my heart was far away at an orphanage in Peru where my wife and I frequently traveled to help a ministry called ‘Lightshine' in their work with broken and abandoned children.
Broken children. Once we arrived on the topic of hurting kids, a deep and caring side of Richard Sherman easily emerged. He shared some of his personal memories of growing up ‘hard'... and of his own dream to help inner-city kids. We talked about ‘DADS', an inner-city ministry in Seattle which mentored absent fathers who no longer wanted to be seen as ‘dead-beat dads'. As we interacted with Richard Sherman, I felt the vibes of a very intelligent Stanford grad; ‘approachable' and ‘sincere'. In a very likeable way, he was thoughtful. He was ‘real'. He evidenced the level of motivation and driven attitude necessary to accomplish the goals he espoused.... in football, and with children and communities.
The magical moment seemed to be ending. Then Richard Sherman turned his attention back to Cedric. Number 25 seemed to get inside the head of my grandson... realizing how 'cool' this serendipitous moment would be to a 14 year-old boy. Motioning towards Cedric he inquired: "Would you like to meet some more Seahawks?" He started walking to the next room, remarking:
"BB isn't here just now, but maybe you'd like to meet our safeties?"
I understood the translation (BB = Brandon Browner). We followed the tall, lanky figure. There was Earl Thomas and what appeared to me to be a defensive end or maybe a linebacker. The larger man approached:
He offered his hand to shake mine: "I'm Kam Chancellor.... Sherm, who are your friends?"
I woke up to the moment.... Cedric and I were with the Legion of Boom! Neither Earl Thomas nor Cam Chancellor seemed to be in a hurry. Both spent time talking with my grandson. They posed for pictures and autographs. I couldn't help introducing myself to Earl Thomas:
"Hi, Mr. Thomas, my name is Paul. I was a Seahawk and also a Viking".
He looked at me in a puzzled way, uttering one word:
Earl Thomas: "When?"
Grandpa: "Oh, back in 68, 69"
Thomas: "I didn't know there were Seahawks back then"
Grandpa: "Sure... my high school team in Seattle... we were the original Seahawks".
Thomas: (grinning and laughing): "And the Vikings... which Vikings were these?"
Grandpa: "That would be the West Washington Vikings in Bellingham". Next I offered:
"I played DB for the Cavaliers (a semi-pro team), but you've probably never heard of them."
There was no point in telling my own story of quitting football in high school because of my father's death when I was about Cedric's age. Everyone was getting too much mileage out of my obvious stretch of the truth about being a former ‘Seahawk'. Earl Thomas just laughed. He introduced me to his brother, who looked every bit as muscular and athletic as any NFL player. Earl's brother shared how he had also played in college, but was now helping the Legion of Boom raise funds for "Sherms' Foundation for kids".
Richard Sherman was clearly the spokesperson for the Legion of Boom, leading the conversation. He focused on two topics: the coming greatness of the Seahawks and his passion to help kids. I watched him through the lens of my own memories of meeting many celebrities during 25 years as an international attorney. While with United Airlines I was assigned PR stints riding with the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and many of the ‘rich and famous'. I had seen many ‘Richard Shermans'. This one came across as real, and as the kind of man I would choose as a friend. He didn't miss an opportunity to fund raise for his charity.... requesting a nominal fee for the privilege of photos and autographs. He won my trust. I gladly chipped in. Earl Thomas and Cam Chancellor applauded, as I handed over some cash to Earl's brother.
Back in July 2013, I didn't know that the Seahawks would be in the Superbowl, or that Richard Sherman would become ‘famous' (or infamous) for his ‘rant' following the Seahawks victory over the 49ers. It was a hot summer day and my grandson was right: there were Seahawks in Chelan. I just sat back and relaxed, enjoying how the conversation flowed between Cedric and what was to become the secondary who would face off against Peyton Manning in SuperBowl XLVIII. I didn't know the ‘Hawks' would be in the Superbowl in 2014, but Richard Sherman did. So did the Legion of Boom.
As Cedric and I turned to leave Tin Lilly's, Richard Sherman called out to Cedric:
Sherman: "Hey, where you guys hanging out today? At the lake? Maybe we'll come by in the boat and meet your little brother".
I was amazed. Number 25 actually remembered everything Cedric had said. He squared his shoulders towards us as we headed back to the park. Sherman looked like he was poised to wrap us up, tackling me for a loss.... Sending me to the next ZIP code. Smiling, he pointed to my grandson:
Sherman: "Hey Cedric.... You remember I said this: This is going to be a special year. We're ready. You'll see. We're going to the Superbowl. We're going to WIN!"
He waved good-bye, as did his team-mates. I thought back to my own ‘Seahawk' high school days in 1969 when Joe Namath predicted a Superbowl win. I could almost hear Sherman say: "I GUARANTEE IT"
Sherman and the Legion of Boom and the Seahawks are something special. They are in the Superbowl. And Richard Sherman is far more than a famous football player. He struck me to be an amazing human being. He will accomplish even more with inner city kids than he will on the football field. In July 2013 a few Seahawks took time for my grandson. They promised a Superbowl victory.
Post-script: They delivered on that promise.