TAMPA — The All-Pro cornerback could’ve played prevent Wednesday, keeping all questions about his volatile offseason in front of him with a soft cushion of prearranged responses.
Instead, Richard Sherman faced his issues head-on, tackling each inquiry at length. At one juncture, his first conversation with Tampa Bay reporters after signing with the Bucs seemed cathartic.
“There’s always a silver lining to everything,” Sherman told the group on an AdventHealth Training Center back patio following his first practice. He arrived in town Tuesday night for a modest one-year deal ($1 million base salary with another $350,000 available in per-game roster bonuses).
“Obviously it was an unfortunate situation and regrettable, but it led to some really positive changes, some help, some therapy, some tools that I didn’t have before to address some things that you kind of let stack up in your mind.”
Sherman was arrested in July, accused of drunkenly crashing his SUV in a construction zone and trying to break into his in-laws’ suburban Seattle home. He has pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges, including driving under the influence and second-degree criminal trespass.
He said the incident forced him to “step back” and seek the type of counseling he previously had avoided, either for professional or even cultural reasons.
“And in that, it’s been remarkable how many other people have said they have the same issues, because you always feel like you’re alone,” he said.
“You always feel like, ‘Hey, man, I’m the only one dealing with this,’ and ‘I don’t want to burden anybody else,’ or ‘I don’t want to make anybody else deal with my problems.’ At least in the Black community, it’s one of those things that you’re never taught to do — taught to seek counsel, to seek help.
“You always feel like, ‘Hey, man, I’ll deal with it, tough it out.’ In football terms, ‘Let’s get to the next play, next play, next play.’ … And the same kind of goes through in life.”
Since opening up about his counseling, Sherman, 33, said others have contacted him — usually via direct message on social media — thanking him for erasing some of the stigma often associated with mental health issues or even counseling. His family has been at the center of his support system, he said, and said the Bucs staff is “very aware and helpful.”
“It was unfortunate,” Sherman said. “I’m a human being. I’m not perfect. I go through ups and downs just like anybody else, and that was a moment. And I’m thankful that I’ve been able to get past it and become better for it.”
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Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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