NFL alum Richard Sherman ’10 tackles student questions

Richard Sherman ’10, retired NFL cornerback and Cardinal football player, spoke on Thursday night during an event hosted by Stanford Speakers Bureau. Sherman, who had a storied career playing mainly for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, currently works as a football analyst, commenting on Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime.

He also guides a foundation, Blanket Coverage, which provides school supplies, clothes and Christmas gifts to those in need in Washington state and California.

The event kicked off with a question-and-answer session, moderated by Joanne DePierre ’25, sports director at KZSU.

Hailing from Compton, California, Sherman competed in football and track-and-field from high school through Stanford. On Stanford’s football team, Sherman started as an offensive wide receiver but eventually switched over to a defensive cornerback position. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in communication from Stanford, he pursued a decade-long NFL career.

At Stanford, Sherman’s favorite memory on the playing field was the Oct. 6, 2007 game pitting the 41-point underdog Stanford against the University of Southern California. In a shocking upset, Stanford clinched the game in the fourth quarter thanks to a pass caught by Sherman, who broke a rib, followed by a touchdown pass thrown from Tavita Pritchard ’09 to Mark Bradford ’07, whose catch sealed Stanford’s win. 

“That was probably my greatest Stanford moment in sports,” Sherman said. “It touched my heart.” The game held a lot of significance for the team, including Sherman’s teammate Bradford, whose father had passed away earlier that week.

Playing at Stanford also enabled Sherman to practice his leadership skills. “Leadership is humility. It’s not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less,” Sherman said. 

Crediting his parents for instilling values of respect and humility, Sherman emphasized the importance of positivity and resilience to audience members. “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. 

To aspiring students, Sherman recommended leaving it all on the field. “Never quit as long as there’s a second left on the clock.” Sherman noted that one never knows when a great breakthrough will occur. 

However, acknowledging the insular nature of the Stanford bubble, he said that “the real world is more vicious than this place is. Stanford goggles can blind us.” 

Characterizing professional football as being a “very cutthroat business” with a “transactional nature,” Sherman outlined how turbulent the life of an athlete can be. Training camps were very fast-paced, needing players to stay alert. 

According to Sherman, there were “no second chances and sometimes, no first chance” to demonstrate playing ability. However, he said that these high expectations motivated him and propelled his further success.

Sherman’s time with his first NFL team, the Seahawks, included the famed Legion of Boom, a nickname for that era’s formidable line-up of defensive players, which boosted the franchise towards its sole Super Bowl victory in 2014. 

Students who attended the event described feeling starstruck and inspired. “I’m a huge football fan and being from the Central Valley, my family are all 49ers fans so I had to come out,” said Emma Escandon M.S. ’25.

Escandon also thought the event aligned well with finals season. “It was good to get some inspiration to hit the books,” Escandon said. 

Khandaker Aqib ’25 associates one of his earliest memories of Stanford with Sherman, after watching a sharp-tongued 2013 exchange between Sherman and sports commentator Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take. A moment that especially stood out to Aqib from this interview was when Sherman bluntly told Bayless, “I’m better at life than you,” after Bayless and fellow sports commentator Stephen A Smith questioned Sherman’s playing ability.  

“I love the work that Richard has done post-NFL in disadvantaged communities,” said Aqib, who appreciated talking to Sherman following the event too. “That meant a lot to me because I consider him a part of my football youth and a Stanford legend.” 

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *