The Seahawks landed in Arizona on Sunday and met with the media, so naturally everyone flocked to Richard Sherman as he hit the podium.
Sherman was subdued as he answered questions politely about the Patriots, his arm injury and a host of other things — until he was asked if he was the best cornerback in the game.
He tried his best to deflect questions about New England’s Darrelle Revis, a very talented cornerback in his own right.
When asked if he was the best cornerback in the NFL about three different ways, Sherman said, "I don’t answer preschool questions."
When pressed on that, Sherman said he likes journalists who "dig deep" for stories and not those who want the "story to write itself."
That seemed to get the old Sherman going. When asked whether he thought the Patriots — the Seahawks’ opponents in next Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX — would be punished for Deflategate, Sherman didn’t hold back.
"I think the perception is the reality," Sherman said Sunday after the defending champions arrived in Phoenix. "It is what it is. Their resume speaks for itself. The past is what the past is. Their present is what their present is. And, will they be punished? Probably not."
The All-Pro cited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s close relationship with New England owner Robert Kraft as his main reason for being skeptical.
"Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. He was just at Kraft’s house last week for the AFC championship," Sherman added. "You talk about conflict of interest.
"But as long as that happens, it won’t affect them at all. Nothing will."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday the team "followed every rule to the letter" in preparing footballs on game day. New England arrives in Phoenix on Monday as the league’s investigation into under-inflated balls continues.
This is the second Super Bowl in which accusations of cheating have followed the Patriots. During their unbeaten 2007 regular season, they were fined $250,000 and Belichick was docked $500,000 for spying on New York Jets coaches’ signals. New England lost to the New York Giants in that Super Bowl.
For many of the Seahawks, the focus on football deflation is a non-topic. Quarterback Russell Wilson brushed aside questions about the subject the way he escapes onrushing defenders. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas admitted he knew nothing at all about it: "I’ve been in my own little world. I don’t watch TV too much."
Sherman, as always, was not reticent about discussing it.
"I think more people might be inclined to root for us, to see history made," Sherman said, noting the Seahawks are seeking to become the first repeat champions in a decade — when the Patriots did it. "I guess the controversy gives us a little edge in that respect."