Cliff Avril guested recently on The Richard Sherman Podcast, and things got interesting quickly. Now, before I move forward, I want to acknowledge the fact that there is plenty of room for sensationalism to be found in Sherman’s comments. And assuredly he said some things that are borderline laughable. However, if you can get past some of the inflammatory rhetoric directed at fans, there are definitely some moments of lucidity, particularly from Avril, who mentions that he has been on an 0-16 team and knows what truly low expectations feels like. But let’s get the painful parts out of the way first; below are a handful of interesting snippets, with minimal analysis as I think that the comments mostly speak for themself.
Before getting to the really gritty stuff, though, I want to start with what I thought was maybe the most important comment that Richard Sherman made in the entire Podcast; this is a rare moment of humanity for a player who has made a career exposing the humanity in others. When speaking about the conclusion of his tenure with the team, Sherman said the following:
“They cut me in the middle of Achilles rehab, and then the fans still had the audacity to get mad (that I signed with San Francisco)... I didn’t leave, I got fired! To cut somebody in the middle of Achilles rehab, you don’t do that to your enemy!”
I just want to open with this one because, regardless of Richard Sherman’s feelings towards Seattle Seahawks fans, at large, we still have to remember that the NFL is a brutal business and players don’t always get to control their own narratives; Sherm has always taken issue with this, whether it was calling out Skip Bayless on national TV, becoming immortalized in a meme where he was yelling at Tom Brady, or his rant to Erin Andrews following the 2014 NFC Championship. And in the same way that Sherm liked to needle opposing receivers to get a reaction (*cough cough* Steve Smith), he likes to needle teams and coaches and the media to get a reaction. Like it or not, this is his style and as long as he remains relevant in some way to the NFL, he will find a way to make his voice heard. With that aside, let us move forward.
“Seattle fans are going to hate to hear this, because its just they hate accountability these days... they’re probably going to get rid of Bobby... Russell Wilson is learning that... You either leave the hero, or you stay long enough to become the villain... these fans had never won anything before we got here.”
Sherman, in reference to the likely roster shakeups coming in 2022. Also, how can fans hate accountability? Just asking for a friend.
“These fans had never won anything before we got here... they went to the Super Bowl in ‘06 and they were happy to be there. And that was their biggest claim. Then we get there we win a Super Bowl, we spoil them with historic defense, and then all of a sudden that’s their expectation.”
-Sherman, referencing fair-weather fans as if they represent all Seattle football fans.
“(they want to) get rid of us... we got replacements, we got LOB 2.0! Then you got rid of us, then you realized you don’t... you realized we were a once in a generation type talent...”
-Richard Sherman, in reference to fans who want to see Bobby Wagner gone this offseason. Sherman called back to the dismantling of the Legion of Boom in the years following Super Bowl XLIX.
“You have not been anywhere close to a Super Bowl letting Russ cook... you will not be anywhere close to a Super Bowl letting him throw 30-40 times a game, because not only are you stopping the clock, so your defense, your time of possession, your propensity to turn the ball over is going to increase.”
-Sherman on Seattle’s lack of a cohesive identity and their shift away from classic Peteball.
“They haven’t had an All Pro corner since I left... they’ve won one playoff game since 2017... the fans got to stop having these weird expectations...”
-Sherman, in reference to the team’s struggles to field an imposing defense and find replacement players.
Interestingly, Richard Sherman circles back around to Pete and Russ, saying “If (Pete Carroll) leaves, you’re going to be tired of losing... immediately,” which indicates that he still has a high level of respect for Carroll, the coach.
Cliff Avril refers to the construction of the LOB as “catching lightning in a bottle” with all the great draft picks, then he goes on to say that he and Michael Bennett were the top two free agents the year both decided to sign with Seattle, which is a rare occurrence (I can’t verify that he was accurate about being the top two free agents overall, but I definitely recall them being coveted edge players, obviously). (Editor’s Note: NFL.com published a “Top 85 Free Agents” post on the eve of free agency in 2013 that ranked Avril and Bennett 6th and 25th overall, respectively, which also happened to be the two highest ranked defensive ends).
Avril generally takes a slightly more nuanced position, saying “You are one play away from being out of the league... the NFL will (go on) for a hundred years without you,” saying that you need to do what is right for you as a player and expect that teams are going to behave similarly (in their own best interests). Among his astute suggestions, the most obvious was that the defense needs to keep Bobby Wagner around because “he knows how to win.” Whether you agree or not, it certainly highlights the high level of respect that Wagner has maintained among current and former teammates. Beyond that, he asserted that both the offense and defense need to find an identity and stick with it; he indicated that the mid-season schematic shake-ups need to go. He also suggested that their offense “has all the weapons” but acknowledged that they have some decisions to make around contracts (e.g. Rashaad Penny).
Well, there you have it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but just keep it appropriate, because if not we will hold you accountable, and we know how much you hate that, apparently.
If you want to hear the full episode, check out The Richard Sherman Podcast on Anchor or it can be watched on YouTube.