If the arrival of quarterback Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has shown us anything, it’s to never underestimate the value of strong leadership.
And if anything else, cornerback Richard Sherman has produced a solid injection of just that, into the Bucs’ defensive back group since he arrived less than one month into the regular season.
“He’s a very intelligent guy,” Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said of his veteran defensive back. “You don't play in the league this long without understanding the game and being very cerebral...He always takes advantage of situations, that’s why you love the player.”
Sherman spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. Winning one Super Bowl as part of the famed ‘Legion of Boom’ defense that helped stop Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from winning what would have been his second championship.
He won it later, but not on Sherman’s watch.
The cornerback went on to appear in two more Super Bowls, losing one to Brady, and the other to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
That lost championship bid came as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, the organization Sherman spent three years with following his time in Seattle. An interesting marriage because of the divisional relationship between the Seahawks and 49ers, and because of this famous emotional moment in NFL Playoff history.
Sherman only played in five games with San Francisco in 2020, and joined the Buccaneers after the season had already begun, partly due to the string of injuries suffered within Bowles’ secondary.
Since his arrival, the veteran has played in four games, had an interception last weekend against the Buffalo Bills, has a fumble recovery, and 11 tackles. But his impact goes well beyond the stat box.
“Probably twice as much,” responded Bowles when asked about Sherman bringing the value the team expected when he arrived to the organization. “He has a lot of valuable experience from a technique standpoint and how to read things and splits and everything else going on for the younger guys in the room. And, teaching them how to watch film with the coaches. He’s been invaluable in the meeting room.”
Sherman even stepped in at one point during the year when his position coach, Kevin Ross, was forced to miss a contest due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Richard Sherman did a great job,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said after the experience. “Sherm did a great job all week. He’s such a bright guy...can pick up those little things. He did a great job during the game talking to those guys also.”
Championship teams often look back on the hurdles cleared on the path to winning.
If this Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad can become the first back-to-back champions in franchise history, then the moments leading up to Sherman being added to the mix, will be looked upon as one that helped fuel their return to the top.