Usually Super Bowl opponents have no reason to dislike each other.
Maybe there's a former coach or player who was wronged and now facing his old team, but rarely is there any hint of a rivalry. Teams from different conferences play each other only once every four years in the regular season.
Their history was the "U Mad Bro?" Game (oh how I wish the great John Facenda of NFL Films was alive to narrate that title). In 2012 Richard Sherman wasn't a household name and we didn't know yet that the Seahawks were going to be champions. Oh how that would change.
The Seahawks beat the Patriots 24-23 on a late touchdown in 2012. The Seahawks had the "Fail Mary" win over the Packers earlier that season, which was Russell Wilson's rookie year, and the Patriots win solidified their ascent. Seattle would lose a close game in the divisional round that season, then win a Super Bowl the following season. But the 2012 Patriots game is known for a tweet more than anything that happened during the 60 minutes of action.
"I think people somehow get a skewed view of Tom Brady that he's just a clean cut, does everything right, never says a bad word to anyone," Sherman said this week. "We know him to be otherwise. In that moment of him being himself he said some things and we returned the favor."
We know now that you don't trash talk Sherman, or the Seahawks for that matter. They are indefatigable when it comes to that. But Brady got them going.
"He was pretty much saying we were nobodies and that we should come up to him after they win," Sherman said. "We should take that pretty well. 'Cool, can I get your autograph too?'"
The Seahawks won. Even if opponents talk trash during the game, it's part of the game and doesn't carry over to the postgame handshakes. But Sherman didn't let it go. He did find Brady after the game and let the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback know what he thought. And then Sherman, in his second season and still just establishing himself as a top cornerback, tweeted out a photo of him returning the trash talk to Brady after the win, and the words "U Mad Bro?" were added to the picture. He deleted the tweet shortly after he posted it.
Sherman had a great line after the game.
"We're built for a heavyweight fight," Sherman said after the game, according to the Seattle Times. "I don't think they're built for a heavyweight fight."
Sherman also said after the game: "Me and Earl walked up to him and said, 'We're greater than you. We're better than you. You're just a man -- we're a team.' That's the Brady Bunch; this is a defense."
Brady didn't forget either. When Sherman was involved in his pre-Super Bowl week controversy last year, after yelling about Michael Crabtree after the NFC championship game (ah, a simpler time where we had something other to talk about than deflated footballs), Brady took some not-so-subtle shots at Sherman.
“I don’t know him at all,” Brady said on WEEI last year. “I’ve watched him play. He’s that kind of guy. So, you know. I approach the game — and I have respect for my opponents. That’s the way our team always plays. We win with graciousness, and when we lose, we could do better. Some teams don’t always do that, or that’s not their program."
Something says that these two aren't going to be giving hugs to each other if they cross paths in Arizona this week.
Brady wasn't asked about Sherman in his media conference this week (he was busy with other questions) and we'll see if Sherman wants to keep talking about Brady once the team arrives for the Super Bowl. Sherman didn't really say anything inflammatory at the Super Bowl last year. But nobody on the Denver Broncos, last year's Super Bowl opponent, had ever gotten his attention in the way Brady did.
For once, we have a little bit of bad blood between the Super Bowl teams.
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