How Richard Sherman's Fingertips Changed History

Thank You, Sherman, We Owe It All to You

How Richard Sherman's Fingertips Changed History

MCT via Getty Images

A HERO IN ACTION Sherman’s miraculous tip drill interception.

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Thanks to the heroics of cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Malcolm Smith, and a miraculous tip drill interception, the Seattle Seahawks will face the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XLVIII. The margin of victory against the San Francisco 49ers couldn't have been thinner—had Sherman been off by even a few inches, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's potentially game-winning touchdown pass would have landed in receiver Michael Crabtree's hands. But of course Sherman didn't let that happen. Seattle teams may have a history of letting the play get away from them in the postseason, but with Richard Sherman on board, everything is different. The only question now is what Seattle sports history would have been like if we'd had Sherman in our ranks sooner.

May 7, 1994

With a second championship in hand, it's easy to forget how fragile the Sonics looked at the end of their first round matchup with the eighth seeded Denver Nuggets. Some would say they were the length of Nuggets' center Dikembe Mutombo's finger away from a humiliating first round elimination. Deep into overtime in the deciding fifth game, Mutombo grabbed a rebound that looked to seal the game for Denver, who were leading by four with mere seconds on the clock. However, after Sonics reserve forward Richard Sherman whispered something infuriating in the Congolese center's ear, Mutombo responded by furiously wagging his finger in Sherman's face. The Nuggets were assessed a controversial technical foul, which Sherman converted, narrowing the Sonics' deficit to three. After Gary Payton's inbounds pass then found Sherman just inside the three-point line, the Sonics forward had enough presence of mind to tip the ball out to Detlef Schrempf, who sunk a game-tying three-pointer as time expired. With the momentum heavily in Seattle's favor, and Mutombo ejected for arguing between overtime periods, the Sonics easily pulled away from Denver, starting their famous playoff run that would end with a stunning four game sweep of Patrick Ewing's New York Knicks. Knicks superfan Spike Lee later said of Richard Sherman's performance in the NBA Finals, "I wish we were up against Reggie Miller... Sherman's play was great, but his words... his words cut right to your core. And words can hurt."

October 21, 2001

After amassing the best regular season record in Major League Baseball history, the Seattle Mariners found themselves on the precipice of elimination in the ALCS. With the game knotted at 1–1 and a runner on in the ninth inning, Yankees rookie Alfonso Soriano stepped to the plate to face Mariners shutdown closer Richard Sherman. "I was sitting fastball," a distraught Soriano said after the game, "but Sherman fired in a splitter, and I grounded it right to all-natural American hero Bret Boone. It was like someone knew exactly how to exploit my weaknesses. But how?" When asked about the pitch, Sherman replied, "Do you have any idea how much tape of Soriano I watched? I watched every swing he has taken since he was a child. I watched his father's swings and his father's father's swings. I knew he was sitting fastball. I knew it and I baited him. Hard. I wanted him to make contact. Separation was in the preparation, baby!" The Mariners would ride Sherman's dominant bullpen performances all the way to the team's lone World Series title.

February 5, 2006

"I think the game changed early on that first quarter touchdown," a dejected Steelers head coach Bill Cowher said after Super Bowl XL ended. "Looked like a clear push off by [Seahawks wide receiver] Darrell Jackson to me, but they didn't throw a flag." After the early controversial touchdown gave the Seahawks the lead and the momentum, the rout was on. When asked about his decision, outspoken referee Richard Sherman replied, "Are you kidding me? You bring some mediocre begging for a flag onto my field and expect to get a call? Please, keep trying to get a flag out of my pocket. Please." Cowher's Steelers team would never grab a foothold in a physical 31–14 Seahawks win in which Sherman's officiating crew all but disappeared.

October 24, 2006

Let us never forget how close the city was to losing the Sonics. It felt like a sure thing before former Sonics owner and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, his left eye bandaged with a makeshift eye-patch fashioned from gauze, defied expectations and announced, "My attorney advised me to under no circumstances sell the team to Clay Bennett." How did this reversal come to pass? Sources inside the league office suggest that Bennett, a little-known oilman who was leading a group of prospective buyers from Oklahoma City, had been so excited to sign the selling papers that he tried snatching them out of the hands of Schulz's attorney, Richard Sherman Esq. This was a mistake. Sherman slapped Bennett's hand away and demanded to know whether the oilman was mad. As Bennett continued to attempt to get his pen to paper, Sherman got physical with his defense, forcing Bennett to the outside time and again. Eventually, a frustrated Bennett lunged for the papers, but Sherman intercepted Bennett's body, pinning him on the conference table. In the ensuing fracas, Bennett managed to drive a fountain pen through Schultz's hand, and as Schultz jerked his hand upward and, looking at it, shouted, "My steam wand fondler!" he inadvertently jabbed the back end of Bennett's pen into his own eye, before crying, "My barista ogler!" After a moment of shock passed, and with Schultz's detached retina clinging to the back of Bennett's Montblanc, Sherman yelled, "That's what happens when anyone tries to sell the Sonics in my city, Howard! Consider yourself advised." Schultz was later pushed to sell the team to a group of Microsoft and Nordstrom executives who funded the beautiful Costco Arena in Sodo, ensuring that the two-time NBA Champion Sonics organization would never leave Seattle. recommended

For more on the Seahawks' chances, the jokes on Twitter, and the annoying-ness of fair-weather fans, click here.

Spike Friedman is The Stranger's sports editor.


Comments (13) RSS

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I don't get the big deal about what he had to say? Talk about this generation not having a backbone - what would they do with Muhammad Ali now?
Posted by happy time on January 22, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Love it! And aStanford grad to boot!
Posted by pat L on January 22, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Hahahahahahahahahaha. I loved this.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 4
I both laughed & wept. Laughed at the great writing, especially Sherman slapping Bennet's hand away as he grabs the contract. But it also reminded me of the horrible humiliating losses Seattle sports have suffered.

Sherman is the hero Seattle needs and deserves.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on January 22, 2014 at 1:35 PM · Report this
@1 They'd do the same thing they did then. Vilify him and try to put him in jail.
Posted by cracked on January 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Wrong, wrong, wrong. We don't owe the "whole thing" to Sherman. We owe it to the TEAM, without whose everyday play-making hard work, Richard Sherman would not have had his moment. It was one excellent play in a season of good work.
Posted by NeitherThisNorThat on January 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM · Report this
@6 I agree. "The tip" is but an example, and symbol, of the many and unique attributes of this team and its players that makes it interesting to watch and successful in pro football.
Posted by cracked on January 22, 2014 at 9:17 PM · Report this
If you´re bored, take a look back at the old Mike Douglas show with Muhammed Ali and Sly Stone circa 1974. Unbelievable.
Posted by mad13 on January 22, 2014 at 11:36 PM · Report this
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@6, @7: ever come across the word "humor?" Lighten up and enjoy the absurdity.
Posted by BillyT on January 23, 2014 at 5:05 AM · Report this
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Huh. It's turns out that sports writing isn't compelling even when it's trying to be funny.
Posted by ctmcmull on January 28, 2014 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Dammit. I thought this article was about Sherman Alexie... I was ready to cheer, and everything.
Posted by C. Rumpus on February 13, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this

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