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How Difficult Will Richard Sherman's Job Be This Year?

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COMMENTARY | They're still mad, bro.

Richard Sherman doesn't have to get in the face and ask if he's getting under the skin of any player this season. Not Tom Brady. Not Trent Williams. Not anyone. The NFL knows who he is.

That's what happens when you compile All-Pro stats, including a team-leading 12 interceptions last year.

It's what happens when you hold receivers like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald in check. No, much like the Seattle Seahawks, Richard Sherman isn't catching anyone by surprise this year.

But whether that will ultimately help or hamper his team's chances at a Super Bowl ring is still unclear.

This year, Sherman, 25, will again line up against some of the best receivers in the NFL early: Anquan Boldin (Week 2 against San Francisco), Andre Johnson (Week 4 at Texas), Fitzgerald (Week 7 at Arizona).

Given Seattle's seemingly foreign status as a favorite to win it all, upstaging the upstart Seahawks and their brash cornerback is a cocktail of motivation and bragging rights for opposing offenses.

Like it or not, Seattle and Sherman are in the crosshairs of itchy trigger-finger offenses.

That isn't anything new for good teams -- the ones circled on locker-room schedules across the NFL. Typically, players get pumped to face the Peyton Mannings and Adrian Petersons of the league. But a defender? In Richard Sherman's case, absolutely.

The perception outside of Seattle is he brings a lot of the attention on himself. The perception in Seattle? He brings a lot of the attention on himself.

When a kid from Compton, Calif., makes his way to Stanford then climbs to the top of the NFL, it's a safe bet he had to fight. In Sherman's case, he didn't get there by playing nice.

But does he solicit unnecessary attention, the kind of stuff that inspires opponents on any given week? It depends on whether you like Sherman or not.

In the eyes of the national media, Sherman is a walking time bomb. And that's a warning to everyone -- on the field and off. He didn't help matters this past offseason by famously blasting the often-crass, perennially opinionated Skp Bayless on ESPN's First Take.

Remember this meme-inspiring line?

"In my 24 years at life, I am better at life than you," Sherman told Bayless in a matter-of-fact kind of way that made your eyes widen with did-he-just-say-that amazement.

On the field, Sherman -- along with his "Legion of Boom" teammates in Seattle's defensive backfield -- will undoubtedly get beat and suffer his fair share of pass-interference calls. That's just the nature of the secondary beast, an aggressive, All-Pro beast to boot.

If it happens away from CenturyLink Field, expect an extra dose of cheers and trash talk to ensue from the stands and home sideline. At the first hint that Sherman's play can't deliver on the swagger he exhibits, expect a feeding frenzy from fans. If it happens on national TV, media will jump all over it.

For fans in Seattle, that's fine. There's an underlying belief among the 12th Man that while Sherman talks and occasionally gets beat, he will win his battles the majority of the time. He did so last year during the Seahawks' run to the playoffs, and fans don't see any reason why he can't do it again. He should be face-to-face with receivers. He should make offenses see so much red that it prompts one of them to smack him during postgame handshakes.

Seattle already has its Boy Scout. His name is Russell Wilson.

As for Sherman and his love-him-or-hate-him status around the NFL, Seattle loves that. It wants that. It feeds off that. A back-it-up trash-talker is something the team has never truly enjoyed, and it's something the normally passive-aggressive Emerald City hasn't seen from its athletes since NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton played for the SuperSonics years before the team left for OKC.

That is, of course, unless Sherman and Seattle's defense fail to live up to the swagger. If by midseason receivers are getting behind the secondary for deep plays or the Fitzgeralds and the Johnsons of the league begin to rack up big numbers that result in Seattle losses, then, yes, they will be mad.

And "they" won't just be Tom Brady or Skip Bayless, either.

Brent Champaco is an award-winning sportswriter who has covered professional, college and high school athletics in the Northwest. He has worked for several newspapers, including The News Tribune in Tacoma, and was a Senior Local Editor at Patch.com. He lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and two daughters.

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