SANTA CLARA (AP) — For all the accolades, victories and the Super Bowl title he won during his seven seasons in Seattle, Richard Sherman still feels some bitterness about his time with the Seahawks.
He believes the team should have won more than one championship, was broken up too soon and that he shouldn’t have been released last March following a season-ending Achilles injury in 2017.
“You expect after you’ve done so much for a franchise, they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt,” Sherman said Thursday as he prepares to return to Seattle for the first time this weekend as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. “It’s kind of more a respect thing than anything. But they did, so you have to roll with the business.”
Sherman downplayed the significance of his return to his old stomping grounds, where he helped establish the famed Legion of Boom secondary that carried the Seahawks to great success, calling it just another game on the schedule.
He said he looks forward to seeing some old friends and familiar faces, although quarterback Russell Wilson apparently isn’t one of them.
“I don’t really have a relationship with Russell,” Sherman said. “We were teammates. We played during a very special time for the franchise.”
Sherman has played at a high level this season with the struggling 49ers (2-9), rarely even getting tested most games. That changed a bit last week at Tampa Bay, when Sherman allowed at least 100 yards receiving for just the sixth time in his career, according to SportRadar.
One of the big gains, a 34-yard catch by Mike Evans, came on a broken play that Jameis Winston extended by scrambling. That’s something Wilson excels at but Sherman didn’t seem too worried about dealing with that this week.
“I’ve seen him throw five picks in a game,” Sherman said. “You see what he’s capable of on both sides. You understand he can be defended and you go out there and give it your best shot.”
Sherman joined the Seahawks in 2011 as a fifth-round pick out of Stanford and almost immediately established himself as one of the game’s premier shut-down cornerbacks.
Wilson came the following year and they made five straight postseasons, winning the Super Bowl following the 2013 season — thanks in part to Sherman’s tipped ball that led to a game-sealing interception to beat the 49ers in the NFC title game.
The Seahawks then fell just short of a repeat when Wilson threw an interception from the 1-yard line in the closing seconds of a 28-24 loss to New England that still haunts the franchise.
Seattle never made it back to the championship game and now only a handful of players remain from those dominant teams.
“Once it’s all said and done and everybody who is playing is done playing, people will be more disappointed of what could have been with such a talented group of players,” Sherman said.
One of the players still in Seattle is Sherman’s old friend Doug Baldwin. The two were teammates in college at Stanford, both joined the Seahawks in 2011 and spent many practices matched up against each other on the field.
Baldwin said it was horrible how Sherman’s tenure ended in Seattle and said it will be hard for his friend to separate those bad feelings from the good times he had with the team.
“From a humanistic standpoint it’s very difficult to separate those emotions,” Baldwin said. “He gave so much blood, sweat and tears while he was here. I think him coming back there will be some emotions there coming and playing in this stadium, albeit in a different jersey. I think that will definitely have some emotional baggage with him.”
Sherman has quickly ingratiated himself in San Francisco after being despised for so long by the 49ers. Left tackle Joe Staley, one of two remaining 49ers from the 2013 NFC championship game, has said he never liked Sherman in the past but now has only praise, comparing his work ethic to that of former teammate Frank Gore.
“The way he works, you’d think he’s just trying to make the team,” Staley said. “But he’s been one of the top corners for a long time in this league.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Renton, Washington, contributed to this report
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