PHOENIX (AP) — Darrelle Revis long reigned supreme among NFL cornerbacks.
Then came along this upstart Richard Sherman, who proclaimed himself the best then backed it up.
Now they get to state their case on the NFL’s biggest stage — Revis’ New England Patriots against Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
They have a bit of history, these two, a Twitter feud from a couple of years ago. The gist of it: Revis was the proven pro and Sherman hadn’t done enough yet to start crowing.
At Tuesday’s media day, any animosity was buried. Each expressed respect for the other, although Revis referred to the fact that in Seattle’s defense, Sherman plays only half the field.
“Sherman, he plays left corner and he does great,” Revis said. “He’s great at what he does. I’m not really knocking him on what he does. He’s a playmaker and that’s what he does for his team.”
Cornerback, Revis said, is “by far” the hardest position to play in football.
The handful of those who excel at the position may bicker, Sherman said, but they share a common bond.
“There’s a respect level between elite cornerbacks in the National Football League,” he said. “It takes a certain mentality to play at a high level in this game, to deal with the pressure, to deal with the intensity of being out there against the best athletes in the world. ... There’s a definite admiration for their ability.”
Sherman’s a talker — opinionated, self-assured. And he says he cares little what people think of him.
“It doesn’t bother me too much, honestly,” he said. “I kind of go to the beat of my own drum. ... I have my own way of doing things and it might not align with everybody, but I’m going to keep it that way.”
Sherman stirred up trouble shortly after the Seahawks landed in Arizona, when, referring to the fairness of the investigation into deflated footballs, he noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft are good friends.
Sherman didn’t back down on that Tuesday, saying that he found their relationship “interesting.”
A small crowd gathered around Revis on media day. Sherman drew a mob, and he reveled in it, answering bizarre questions — such as what super power would he like to have while playing (he would fly). He danced with a woman reporter, confidently showing his moves.
He said he was sure his girlfriend, due soon to deliver the couple’s first child, would not have the baby on Super Bowl Sunday.
To the young Seattle star, media day was no chore.
Sherman earned a Super Bowl ring last year, in his third NFL season. Revis is playing in the big game for the first time in his eight years in the league.
For the first seven, he played for the New York Jets, becoming “Revis Island.” Twice he made it to the AFC championship game, but no farther.
He and the Jets parted ways after last season, and Revis landed with the Patriots, the team he had fought without much success for so long.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Revis said. “I mean, this is what you play for every year. In the offseason you work hard to get to this point and when you get there, like right now, it’s so surreal for me.”
He wouldn’t address his future with the team. New England reportedly wants him back, but not on the terms of his existing contract, which would count $25 million on next season’s salary cap. He’s due a $12 million roster bonus on April 1.
But for one year, he has been all-in.
“I think I really embraced it when I sat down with Mr. Kraft and (coach) Bill (Belichick) and we had a one-on-one conversation,” Revis said. “It was a very chill conversation. ... At that point, I felt very comfortable and wanted to join the team.”
Sherman said his left elbow, hurt in the NFC championship win over Green Bay, “is feeling pretty good.”
“It’s been good all week,” he said. “I’m done getting treatment.”
And he shrugged off cornerback Brandon Browner’s suggestion that he would tell his New England teammates to break Sherman’s elbow.
“I think he was just caught up in the moment,” Sherman said. “He didn’t mean any malice by it. It’s one of those things, we know him as a person and sometimes he exaggerates a little bit.”
Far be it for Sherman, of all people, to be bothered by a pointed remark from a foe.