clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Richard Sherman says Baker Mayfield didn’t shake his hand, backtracks

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Richard Sherman had a good game on Monday night in the San Francisco 49ers 31-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns, but on Tuesday he was in the news again for what he said, not what he did.

Sherman first accused Baker Mayfield of spurning his pre-game Monday Night Football handshake in Michael Silver’s article on Tuesday, but following the posting of video that disproves this on social media, the former Seattle Seahawks cornerback has since backtracked on his initial claims.

After the win, in which Mayfield went 8/22, throwing two picks (once to Sherman) and fumbling once, Sherman spoke to Silver on his first version of events:

“What’s amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning,” Sherman said. “That’s some college s---. It’s ridiculous. We’re all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent -- that’s NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that’s disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that’s gonna get us fired up.

“Respect the game,” Sherman said, referencing Mayfield’s pregame behavior. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment -- especially when you’re young.

”He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.

”And when you see a guy who doesn’t? You humble him every chance you get. Because eventually, he will have respect for the league -- or he’ll be out of it.”

With Twitter set ablaze with fiery takes piling into the character of Mayfield, the story appeared to be written.

In fact, this story was just beginning. Next, Sherman doubled-down on his initial take. His now-deleted reply to an inconclusive @NFL_DovKleiman video reiterated his claims in Silver’s piece.

More obvious footage soon emerged, with video showing that Mayfield had, in fact, shaken the hands of Sherman and all of the other San Francisco team captains. Sherman was directly contradicted.

Sherman then changed his version of events. The issue, according to Sherman, was that Mayfield had not shaken his hand after the coin toss, instead choosing to run to the sideline.

This is the first time that Sherman has been in the news for a while. Perhaps it’s because the 49ers actually have something to shout about, being one of only two undefeated NFL teams while sitting atop the NFC West with a 4-0 record.

Silver’s NFL.com piece has since had an editorial note added to it, which outlines “a lengthy on-the-record discussion.” Silver chose this handshake as the story. It’s certainly become that. There’s no signs of it leaving the media cycle either, with Sherman agreeing to appear on The Pat McAfee Show sometime on Wednesday.

For Sherman, a four-time All Pro (3x First Team, 1x Second Team) and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, this is just an example of how he uses any possible situation as personal motivation. Furthermore, this manufacturing of disrespect could help to create an “us against them” feel in the 49ers locker room that reduces the chances of complacency and maintains focus. These are absolutely crucial traits for any team to sustain successful.

From a Seahawks perspective, Sherman always was a somewhat difficult character due to his hyper competitiveness and intelligent outspokenness. His elite play and winning games helped ease possible tensions. But after suffering an Achilles injury at 30-years-old and garnering a $14 million cap hit, Sherman was suddenly made expendable.

The corners’ recovery has been remarkable.

This Sunday, Seattle travels to a 10am game at Cleveland. That’s a team who surely can’t get any worse and is hungry to be better after an embarrassing prime time showing. They will be even more angry and driven after this Sherman story.

The 31-year-old cornerback is a master manipulator and it’s hard to avoid the feeling that this was a calculated risk from the savvy vet - the next time the 49ers face the Browns, Sherman is likely to have hung his cleats up and be writing his Hall of Fame speech.