“I am the best.” “No, I am the best.” And so goes the ego-centric debate between self-promoting Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman and rising Arizona Cardinal star, Patrick Peterson.
Richard Sherman is always more than willing to engage in discussion about his favorite subject: himself. But Patrick Peterson is not cut from that cloth. Peterson has been the kind of professional who always seems to take the high road by not building his status through stomping on someone else. He has earned his reputation on the field rather than through the 144 characters of Twitter. Yet he has recently attempted to compete with Richard Sherman off the field. To that, he is no match. Sherman is in elite company when it comes to self-promotion. One day, he will be seen in the same light as Neon Deon Sanders or maybe even Muhammad Ali. You see, Sherman is as smart as he is good and has the gift of gab with whom few can compete. Just ask Skip Bayless of ESPN. Also, Sherman has a belief that he needs to prove just how wrong the NFL got it when he was not drafted until the 5th Round of the 2011 Draft. He was selected 149 picks after the Cardinals selected Peterson and during those five rounds, 24 other cornerbacks were selected by teams ahead of Seattle’s selection of Sherman at pick 154. That experience has created a deep chip on Sherman’s broad shoulders.
Richard Sherman is a great cornerback. Offenses avoid him. Receivers run away from him. Yet he has a knack for finding the ball. He has had 20 interceptions over the past three seasons, compared with 12 for Peterson. But for the most part, Sherman plays in a “Corner 3” defense, which means he is almost always facing the ball and is not assigned a specific receiver from the opposing team. In fact, statistics show that Sherman is assigned coverage against the opposing team’s top wide receiver about half as often as Peterson is given that top assignment. Almost everyone not named Sherman is of the opinion that Peterson’s man-to-man coverage skills are superior to those of Sherman. Further, in the past few years, Sherman has had two great safeties playing behind him (Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas) who literally and figuratively have his back as part of a secondary known as the “Legion of Boom.” Peterson has not been quite that lucky. The Cardinals secondary has not done anything worthy of being assigned a nickname.
But let’s face it; does any of this Sherman v Peterson debate even matter? Sherman and Peterson are both stars. For me, this is like the old debate of whether you would choose Dan Marino or John Elway or the current debate of Brady versus Manning. In either case, would you mind being stuck with the second choice?
So why is Peterson taking on the self-proclaimed king? The answer: money! Sherman just signed a new contract with the Seahawks. Reports are that his contract is in the range of $57.4 million ($40 million guaranteed) over the course of four years. He has now set the salary bar for the highest tier of defensive backs, along with Joe Haden of the Browns, who just signed a five year- $67.5 million deal. Peterson is vying for a new contract with the Cardinals. If his name can be mentioned in the same conversation as Sherman and Haden, Peterson can use their contracts as his negotiating chip for his big payday to come.
Peterson deserves his payday. However, I think he is in the wrong city to use this tact of self-promotion. Phoenix fans commit to “our guys.” The fans then become the support system for contact extensions. “Our guys” include the likes of Steve Nash, Kurt Warner, Randy Johnson, Shane Doan and Larry Fitzgerald. Although not a team sport guy, Phil Michelson would be in that class as well. Not one of them had to self-promote because we all loved them for their abilities and their proclivity to let their work do their talking. With few exceptions, such as Charles Barkley, this town has rarely embraced the stars who seem to start every sentence with “I” when speaking in public. But even Barkley made it clear while here with the Suns that his priority was winning a championship, not securing a place in the Hall of Fame. The only Phoenix “player” who was accepted despite being focused on his pay day rather than winning was Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the film, Jerry McGuire. You remember him…”Show me the money!”
Patrick, we have adopted you as one of our own. This town was united in the belief that you were the steal of the 2011 NFL draft and we did not question on draft day why the Cardinals did not use its 5th pick for a quarterback like Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker. We will remain united in insisting that the Cardinals re-sign you to a multi-year contract extension. However, if you continue to focus on how great you are as much as or more than you focus on helping bring a Super Bowl Championship to Phoenix, we may not be so accepting. While I absolutely hate quoting anything involving the Raiders or Al Davis, I must say to Patrick: “Just win baby.” The rest will take care of itself.