Bad as it was, Richard Sherman was lucky — as were his family, freeway construction workers and police officers, one of whom had to tackle the three-time, first-team All-Pro cornerback to the ground to make an arrest.
The provocative life of one of the best players in the NFL over the past decade, and one of the greatest heroes in Seattle sports history, swerved dangerously through a private hell on the East Side early Wednesday morning.
Everyone lived through it, and will tell the story for a long time. Long enough to scar a sports legacy.
“We’re very fortunate,” said Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead at press conference Wednesday afternoon at Redmond Police headquarters. “These crews are out working at night at great risk to themselves. And here you have a suspected impaired driver that not only placed other motorists at risk, he placed those people that are doing construction at risk by entering a closed construction zone.”
Sherman, an NFL free agent who lives in Maple Valley and had expressed in multiple interviews interest in re-joining the Seahawks, spent Wednesday in King County jail.
Update Thursday afternoon: Sherman was released without bail after King County District Court Judge Fa’amomoi Masaniai found probable cause that Sherman committed misdemeanors of second-degree criminal trespass and third-degree malicious mischief, as well as resisting arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol. He no longer faces a felony charge.
A second court date is at 2 p.m. Friday. Sherman did not appear personally Thursday and does not have to on Friday. He was represented by attorney Cooper Offenbacher, who said, “Richard Sherman is among the best in our community, and we’re proud to have him here. He’s a good person with a good soul.”
Sherman was booked initially at 6:08 a.m. Wednesday for investigation of residential burglary/domestic violence when he attempted to force his way into the home of his in-laws near Lake Sammamish. That was after WSP reported that his SUV on eastbound Highway 520 at the 148th Street exit was heavily damaged after striking objects in an active, closed construction zone. The vehicle was left inoperable in a nearby commercial lot as the vehicle’s owner, identified by license plate as Sherman’s, fled on foot, according to police. Workers at the site reported to police that the driver seemed impaired.
At 1:49 a.m., Redmond police took a 911 call from the residence belonging to Sherman’s in-laws. According to Redmond police chief Darrell Lowe, after an “amicable” conversation of about 10 minutes, police told Sherman he was under arrest. He began walking away and resisted, causing an altercation. Officers in the K-9 unit used a dog to stop him “to enforce compliance,” Lowe said. Mead reported one WSP officer took Sherman to the ground. Sherman had a cut on his lower leg from a dog bite that was treated at a hospital, and two officers reported minor injuries — “scrapes”, Mead said — none requiring medical attention.
At the press conference, police disclosed the additional complaints of resisting arrest and malicious mischief (considerable damage to the front door), and explained the domestic violence in the original charge was because of a relationship with occupants, not because a physical assault occurred.
The absence of domestic physical violence was corroborated by Sherman’s wife, Ashley Moss, who responded to a phone inquiry from the Seattle Times.
“At this time we’re going to make no statements, except he didn’t harm anybody,” Moss said. “My kids were not harmed in the incident. He’s a good person and this is not his character. We’re doing all right, just trying to get him out. I want people to know no one was injured.”
Redmond police Thursday released audio recordings of Moss’s 911 call in which she sought police protection for her family at her parents’ home. She said her husband was in a “really bad” depression, taking anti-depressants and drinking heavily.
The Associated Press reported that a previously undisclosed Redmond police report said Sherman’s father-in-law, Raymond Moss, told investigators that his son-in-law partially broke down the door by repeatedly ramming it with his shoulder. Sherman called out, “Come through, Ray!” in a hostile and threatening tone, Moss said.
“The family began to yell in fear,” Moss told police. “I used pepper spray on Sherman’s face through the partially opened door as he was still banging and attempting to gain entry. I told him to stop. I armed myself with my handgun at this time fearing for the safety of myself and my family.”
WSP executed a warrant for a blood draw on Sherman. Via email, Trooper Rick Johnson said WSP’s investigation “is the hit-and-run collision and suspected DUI. That is what will be forwarded to the prosecutor.”
The news was a shocker around the NFL, where Sherman’s play, leadership, social activism and courage have earned him league-wide respect. A union player rep since 2014, he was voted onto the NFLPA’s executive committee in 2016 and re-elected in 2018 and 2020 and is a vice-president.
After leaving the Seahawks in 2017 when, injured, he wasn’t offered a contract extension, he negotiated his own free agent deal with the 49ers, joining the club nearest Seattle as well as his Stanford alma mater. A healthy 2019 showed he was as good as ever.
After more injuries in 2020, the 49ers in March let him go into free agency. At 33, he has no offers two weeks before NFL training camps open. The episode will put him under scrutiny of Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has broad powers to act in cases of player misbehavior, independent of legal outcomes. Even though Sherman is a free agent, Goodell can preclude teams from signing him.
A fifth-round draftee in 2011 from Compton, CA., the pugnacious Sherman was a starter by the end of his rookie season, and a national celebrity by 2013 as the most voluble character in the Legion of Boom, the secondary that helped create perhaps the greatest defense in NFL history. From 2013-16, the Seahawks led the NFL in fewest points allowed, winning one Super Bowl via blowout and lost another by blowing it. They were never short of drama, humor and spectacle.
Sherman’s passion for the game was nearly equal with his desire to be right on all matters. His willingness to challenge everything and everyone sometimes left him sideways even with his allies, such as Doug Baldwin and Pete Carroll. Sufficiently dismayed with his public actions in 2016 that seemed insubordinate, Carroll made the rare move to say publicly the Seahawks were open to trade offers. Whether the threat was sincere, Sherman seemed to decide to play nice — for awhile.
An Achilles tendon torn in the ninth game of 2017 made the relationship too complicated to salvage. But his three-year tenure in San Francisco revealed an “elder” statesman maturity that seemed to take him from irritating to endearing.
Now this. The hardest chapter yet in the astonishing narrative of Richard Sherman.