RENTON, Wash. — Seattle coach Pete Carroll pulled Richard Sherman aside on Monday and made sure his fiery cornerback understood that his rant against San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was overshadowing the Seahawks reaching their second Super Bowl.
Sherman seemed to get Carroll’s message.
“He was really clear that the last thing he wanted to do was take something away from our team, what we had accomplished,” Carroll said.
Sherman became the focal point of attention — positive and negative — after Seattle beat San Francisco 23-17 on Sunday to win the NFC championship.
Sherman already was going to be in the spotlight for what he did on San Francisco’s final offensive play, twisting his body to deflect a pass intended for Crabtree into the air and allowing time for teammate Malcolm Smith to run over and make an interception in the end zone to clinch the Seahawks’ victory.
The athleticism on the play was worthy of praise. But Sherman’s antics from that point drew praise from some for being honest and unfiltered, and criticism from others for being too harsh and combative.
“This is a very emotional kid and that’s what drives him,” Carroll said. “We did sit down and talk about it because I want him to present himself in his best light. He’s an incredible kid.
“He has a great sense about things and understanding and sensitivity and awareness and he cares and he’s a very thoughtful person so when he puts out those kind of thoughts he has to know what he’s saying and understand it, and I think he’s very understanding at this point that he caused a stir that took away from the team.”
After Sherman’s block on Crabtree, he didn’t let the celebration end with his teammates. Sherman ran over to Crabtree and gave him a pat on the backside, then appeared to extend his arm for a handshake.
Instead, Sherman got shoved in the face before picking up his personal foul as his celebration continued. The taunt included a choking gesture in the direction of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Asked about the incident afterward on TV, Sherman lit up Twitter with a rant that began: “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get!”
Sherman didn’t back down later, calling Crabtree “mediocre.” He said his issues with Crabtree went back to an incident during the offseason.
Carroll said he viewed the situation as a father talking to his son and wanted Sherman to realize some more thought should have gone into what he was saying.
“There’s some stuff in there I think you should think about and did you really want it to come out the way it did and talk our way through that,” Carroll said. “And he didn’t. He didn’t feel right about that.
“There were a lot of great things that happened last night and we’re talking about some other stuff.”