NEWARK — Richard Sherman smiled, hugged old ladies, fist-bumped kids, sang pop songs and got asked about everything from Justin Bieber to playing Batman on Tuesday.
The Seattle Seahawks' star cornerback was in his element at Super Bowl XLVIII media day, holding court for more than an hour with questioners stacked six-deep – and providing nothing resembling the inflammatory antics that brought most of them there in the first place.
"I'm not anybody's puppet," said Sherman, who brought his own camera to the podium to document the NFL's annual circus. "You're not going to just get controversial things. I'm going to be myself every time, good, bad or indifferent, and it's not always going to be entertaining."
His high-volume, nationally televised rant after the NFC Championship Game won't matter come Sunday. But it surely was the reason the throng chronicling Sherman's hour-long podium session was rivaled only by that at Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's.
There was the woman in the No. 25 Seahawks jersey who wanted a hug. Kids ducked their way to the front to ask advice about school. Michelle Williams, the former Destiny's Child singer, dueted with Sherman on several hits and gave him an Xbox for knowing the words.
Sherman said he had no advice for Bieber and Ben Affleck will make a better superhero. The closest he came to controversy was answering Broncos cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie's assertion that Sherman isn't one of the NFL's top-five corners with a laugh.
"Yeah, that's a joke," Sherman said.
Rodgers-Cromartie made the remark during the Broncos' session at the Prudential Center, telling reporters the start of Sherman's now-famous rant – "I'm the best corner in the game!" – was misguided as long as veterans Champ Bailey, Asante Samuel and Charles Woodson are around.
"You have to respect them," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who rounded out his top five with Darrelle Revis and cousin Antonio Cromartie.
"They put the time in. I understand that if a guy comes in and he's got a lot of picks, he's doing good, you're going to want to feel like the best. But as long as them guys in the game, you can't say that, because they paved the way."
Hours later, Sherman responded: "I'm definitely fine with that. … Anytime you have Hall of Fame guys like that, you're not better than them in a historic sense. … But when you have a season like this, I mean, it is what it is. He can say what he wants."
Then it was right back to questions about Sherman's taste in music, his dreadlocks, his fashion sense and how he'll capitalize on the, ahem, unique branding opportunity his newfound fame in the mainstream has presented.
At one point, Seahawks teammate Heath Farwell wandered into the fray and told a reporter to grill Sherman about his taste in cars. Sherman was too busy letting a Hispanic TV reporter teach him how to say, "I'm the best cornerback in the NFL" in Spanish.
Asked if he'd thought about what he'll say after another big play to win the Super Bowl, Sherman said, "I haven't thought about it, but I think I'll think about it this time" – then winked.
He says he wishes he hadn't taken attention away from teammates. But one thing's certain: attention isn't going away for Richard Sherman.
"It's not always going to be the sound bite that you want," Sherman said. "Sometimes, it's just going to be intellect. It's going to be something that you can think about, something that makes you go to a dictionary. I'm a pragmatist. Some people might not understand that, and I think certain parts of me aren't going to be understood that well."
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