At some point in 2016, Richard Sherman hurt his knee and because the Seattle Seahawks did not disclose that publicly or to the NFL it may cost the organization a draft pick later this year. So it’s news which resonates with implication both backward and forward in time.
While we await the results of the league’s investigation into the gaffe, I wanted to try to pinpoint when and how the injury occurred to try to figure out how long the team was able to keep a sprained MCL secret or if, as the Seahawks’ staff reportedly contends, the injury wasn’t serious enough to warrant reporting. We may never know the total severity of damage inside Sherman’s knee, but the lack of specifics revealed so far leaves a lot of mystery around the nature of any supposed coverup. Yet there are public clues that help piece together some of this puzzle.
I will post more this weekend with my analysis of that situation but first, since I located what I believe is a rather consequential forgotten play, I wanted to share it. It’s from Monday Night Football in week 9 against the Buffalo Bills:
(Sorry for a slo-motion replay of someone’s pain, but it happened so close to the corner of the screen I had to enlarge it and show different angles to make the injury evident. Don’t look if you’re uncomfortable.)
With less than seven minutes left in the game, Walt Powell upends Sherman with a low block outside the play—it’s not a dirty block; Powell never leaves his feet and he appears to contact Sherman above the knee. Powell may have been specifically aiming for retribution after Sherman ran into Bills kicker Dan Carpenter’s leg during an attempted field goal block in the first half, but then Buffalo’s low blocks that day weren’t all targeted at Sherman. LeSean McCoy might have easily cut outside, so it’s fair game.
Either way, Sherman rolls in agony for a minute clutching his left knee, then gets up and appears to shake it off. The ESPN broadcast crew never mentions the injury, except to note when Sherman checks back in after one play. Nobody asks Pete Carroll about Sherman’s knee in the postgame press conference. There was no indication of an injury to Sherman in the weekly injury roundup and all the questions in Sherman’s weekly press conference the following Wednesday concerned the mechanics of the blocked kick penalty, the social media reaction from Carpenter’s wife, the next matchup against the Patriots and the presidential election results from the night before.
So it’s easy to understand how the knee was forgotten in all those storylines, especially since Sherman continued to play and didn’t appear badly hurt. I’ll explain more in a day or two why I think its timing in the season, relative to the rest of the information we have about the injury reporting, is significant in the league’s deliberation about a possible penalty.