“That’s Sherm,” Sherman’s former Stanford teammate Michael Thomas told FOXSports.com on Monday. “That’s how he acts. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised one bit. He talks before the game and if he has success and his team wins, he feels he has the right to say whatever he wants because he put up the performance that he wanted to. I wasn’t surprised one bit.
“That persona he takes on is just him. His game in that way as far as he does the interviews is tailored after Muhammad Ali and Deion Sanders or any other great athlete who would talk noise and then back it up. That’s what he wants to do. He talks noise to put pressure on himself to play well so when he does he continues to talk. And that’s exactly what he does.”
Thomas, who played with the Dolphins in 2013, remembers his official visit as a high school senior to Palo Alto back in 2008. Sherman was tasked with showing him around. Thomas received offers from the likes of Stanford, Iowa State and Northwestern, but was immediately struck with the way Sherman carried himself on campus.
“My first impression was this is definitely a guy who is confident about himself,” Thomas said with a laugh. “He walks around with a swag.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is the kind of guy I could see myself having it out with every day at practice.’ At that time he was still a receiver. He wasn’t even a DB, yet. I couldn’t wait to compete with him.”
The bond between the two formed. Sherman went on to join Thomas in the secondary and they maximized their opportunities. Each of them had success leading the 2011 Stanford team to the Orange Bowl. It all began with holding each other accountable. Sherman’s candid way even permeated through the defensive unit on non-game days, too.
“The trash talking that he would do at practice actually sparked the whole defense and it really set the tone,” Thomas recalled. “We took after him. That was the persona of Stanford defense [because of] Richard Sherman.”
While most perceive Sherman’s postgame tirade as arrogance and brashness, the Seahawks cornerback noted that he felt disrespected by 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. During last offseason, Crabtree reportedly tried to start a fight while the two were at a charity event hosted by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, according to Sherman’s older brother, Branton via the Seattle Times.
“He’s not the type of person to be outspoken about somebody unprovoked,” Thomas said. “But he will give his opinion if you ask him.”
It’s no secret that Sherman and his former head coach Jim Harbaugh have a rift that remains until this day. While each has made statements about one another, Thomas shed some light on where everything stemmed from.
“There is issues with them that’s gone unsolved since college,” Thomas said. “They both I think have admitted to it. I don’t know if coach Harbaugh has, but I know Sherm has since he’s been in the pros. That’s something I would hope — because they had a player-coach relationship in college — that they would be able to resolve at some point.
“There was definitely issues with them in college. That’s why Sherman ended up moving from receiver to DB while he was at Stanford.”
The move was likely for the better as Sherman declared himself as “the best cornerback in the game” on Sunday night.
Moments after the Seahawks paraded around Century Link Field with the NFC Championship Trophy and Sherman witnessed his Twitter account balloon by more than 100,000 followers, the two friends and former teammates reconnected.
“We talked after the game last night,” Thomas said. “It was more so of me congratulating him. I sent him a text which he ended up tweeting the lyrics or whatever. We have a different relationship.
“It was me congratulating him and him taking it all in. He’s going to the Super Bowl. He’s confident but he’s not done yet. He’s trying to get that Super Bowl ring.”