Kumbaya, said CB Richard Sherman. That was what the unplanned Seahawks team meeting last week was about in the wake of his sideline shouting match with coaches during the Dec. 15 Rams game, and a subsequent dust-up with a media questioner.
“It was good,” Sherman said. “Just talked about the mood of the team, guys coming together. We have a kumbaya meeting just about every year. Just the same thing.”
What was different Wednesday was that Sherman declined his standard weekly podium appearance that has been his custom for the past three seasons. Reporters caught up to him at his locker just prior to practice for about four minutes. He was cordial, a little sarcastic about his reasons, and a bit nervous.
“I’ll think about it,” he said when asked if he’ll return to his podium sessions. “It’s a privilege. Not everybody appreciates it. It’s a privilege (to have me) standing up there. You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
When it was suggested that reporters couldn’t go a week without him, he smiled and said, “Now you’re making me feel special. That’s what I was looking for.”
Then this was all about attention? “My god, see? What do I do for an encore?”
Sherman was having some fun with the banter. But he wasn’t entertaining any questions about the consequence of his actions that prompted a one-on-one meeting with coach Pete Carroll in his office the day after the game.
Asked if he had any regrets about the episode, Sherman said, “They already asked me that question and I already answered, right?”
Indeed, Sherman post-game and last Wednesday (pre-meeting) at the podium offered no apology, standing by his remarks critical of the decision to pass from the one-yard line instead of rushing the ball, which invoked a revisiting of the nightmare ending of the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. Even though the series in question ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to WR Doug Baldwin.
Carroll Friday said he was “a little surprised” Sherman didn’t apologize publicly.
Asked Wednesday if any punishment resulted, Sherman asked a reporter, “Did you see me get punished?”
“Did you ask the coach?”
“What did he say?”
He said it was internal.
Jokingly asked if the punishment was 500 pushups — the misdemeanor “fine” Huskies coach Chris Petersen gives his misbehaving players — Sherman smiled and said, ” They tried to get me to do it, but I’m already too buffed.”
Carroll said last week that Sherman’s behavior was just part of the rationale for the team meeting.
“There was some other stuff,” Carroll said. “Trying to make sure that we keep bringing the young guys along. There are a lot of young guys on this team, and as we’re going down the stretch here, we need to help them understand what’s expected, and how they should deal with what appears to be the mounting issues as you get to the end of the season.”
More seriously, Sherman dismissed the notion that his episode was the main reason for the unplanned meeting, saying it pops up annually depending on seasonal circumstances, citing one specifically following the surprising trade of WR Percy Harvin in the middle of the 2014 season.
“It happens every year at different times,” he said. “It’s always Pete (who calls them). We all go into the kumbaya meeting room.”
Asked if good comes from them, he said, “They’re effective, hearing a different element from some guys. Older guys have seen it for years. It gives the younger guys something different.”
The pattern following the “kumbaya” meetings has been an uptick in team performance. Instead Sunday, the Seahawks had a terrible first half, rebounded in the second half, but still lost 34-31 to underdog Arizona, a defeat that could cost them the No. 2 seed that includes the coveted first-round bye.
“Not concerned at all,” said Sherman. “We’re in the playoffs, and we got a chance to do everything we want to do.
“We’re in the place we always are. Getting ready for the next game, and putting on a show.”
That includes Sherman, whether at podium, locker or the deep third of the defensive backfield.