It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming. It had been all over social media and sports radio for days. Still, when the official news broke, it hit me like a sledgehammer. I was at my desk at work and lost my breath for a moment. My gut knotted up. I was expecting it, but it still felt so surreal. The next day, you signed the deal with the 49ers. Any lingering hope that you might come back to the Seahawks was immediately crushed.
In the days when the chatter first began, I tried chocolate, my usual go-to when under duress. It didn’t help. Going out with friends after work on Friday and face-planting in nachos didn’t help either. Alcohol and drugs aren’t an option. I ended up spending much of the weekend asleep on the couch with a blanket pulled over my head. Sleep provides some respite. But a beat after opening my eyes, there it is again.
Richard Sherman, you are an icon who forever changed the Seahawks and Seattle. You played at a stratospheric level that astonished, inspired and delighted us. You reset the standard for professional sports in this city. Along with your esteemed teammates, you established the Legion of Boom, the most lethal and respected secondary in the history of the NFL. You brought us thrills and bragging rights. As a public figure, you were unabashed, outspoken and very funny. And you had the bulletproof smarts to back it up. (Your takedown of Skip Bayless was epic, perhaps one of my favorite Richard Sherman moments ever.) You were completely yourself, refreshingly unfettered by the need for approval. Rolling with you was always an adventure through the unexpected. Thanks to you, Seattle unclenched its collective buttocks and had a hell of a lot of fun. For all this and more, I thank you.
A few years ago as I was staring down the empty nest blues, I decided to deal with that heartache by working to elevate my football IQ. As such, I read everything I can, watch game film, listen to sports radio and even occasionally play Madden, although my gaming skills (or lack thereof) are often a hindrance to my learning. I understand the NFL and how the business works. I know all of this is routine and the wisdom of non-attachment. But when it comes to you, my fan love overrides my intellectual sensibilities.
Fandom is an irrational thing really. It is adoration and devotion to someone because of the art they create, the songs they write or, as in your case, the way they play a game. It’s based on a person we think we know but don’t really. Reality could tell a different story. Maybe you’re a bad tipper, Richard, or torment the neighbor’s neurotic little dog on a daily basis. Maybe you text while driving or routinely fart in the locker room. The point is that fans don’t really know the human beings they hold in such awe. However, thanks to what was probably a small gesture on your part, I feel my fandom is grounded in at least a minuscule connection. In the day, I work at a food bank. At night, I write, mostly promotional copy for musicians and bands. I’ve been honing my writing chops since I was a teenager and blogging for about 15 or so years. In 2012, I wrote a post about you and put the link out on Twitter. You may or may not remember this, but you graciously retweeted the link, instantaneously blowing up my blog. Over the course of 2-3 days, my blog received more hits than it had in all the preceding years of its existence. It was my Cinderella moment as a writer, compliments of Richard Sherman. Again, I thank you.
I can’t imagine the Seahawks without you. I don’t even know how to get my mind around it. Yes, I was a fan prior to your arrival. But you changed the franchise. Your departure leaves an enormous hole. I’m hopeful that time will help me get my bearings again. In the interim, my plan is to geek out on the technical aspects of football. My buddy Nate and I have been talking about tracking trends. We’re going to watch a bunch of old game films over the summer, especially those of teams the Hawks will be playing next season, and see if we can chart trends and, ultimately, predict play calling. We’ll be sitting with laptops on our knees and spreadsheets strewn about. It’s ambitious and a little silly. But I’m adrift. It feels like a good thing to focus on right now.
Admittedly, it will be hard to see you in a 49ers jersey. It scrambles my brain a bit just to picture it. But I’ll suck it up somehow and will continue to root for you. (Frankly, a Patriots jersey would have been much more distasteful and odious.) I’m glad you were able to land a deal that works for you. And in my mind, the post-Harbaugh 49ers are a very different team than the rivals of a few years ago. I wish you nothing but success with them. By the way, anyone who burns your Seahawks jersey is an asshole.
This is not a good-bye, Richard, but a testament of my appreciation. My dream is to be a sports journalist and to write about football. I still hold out hope that one day I’ll have the honor of interviewing you and telling your story, or whatever parts of it you’re willing to share with me.
My wishes for you and your family are health, peace and great joy. Although you’re a rock star football player, your most important role is being a father. I know you know that. Cherish every minute. It goes so quickly. I hope that you achieve everything you set out to achieve, both on the field and off. May you continue to shine brightly in every way and to seize the world as only Richard Sherman can. Thank you again for everything you gave us.
Big love and the happiest of blessings…..