Richard Sherman’s Failure

800px-Richard_Sherman_(American_football)Are you nuts? Richard Sherman isn’t a failure. He’s a champion!

This is true. But to get to that championship ending, Richard Sherman faced a moment where he had to realize he had failed.

By now, even those who don’t follow football know about Richard Sherman, the bombastic cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks. What most people don’t know is that Richard Sherman is a failure, and that his failure has the potential to teach us about finding our own calling and greatest gifts.

When Richard Sherman walked onto the campus of Stanford University as a freshman, it wasn’t to play cornerback. Sherman was recruited to play Wide Receiver. While he had a great freshman campaign, his sophomore season didn’t measure up. Then four games into his junior year, he suffered a devastating knee injury and was done for the year.

Coming off the injury, the Stanford team had plenty of talented receivers. Three wide receivers and two tight ends on that team would go on to play on Sundays including Doug Baldwin (now playing for Sherman’s Seahawks), Ryan Walen (now playing for the Bengals), Coby Fleener (now playing for the Colts), Griff Walen (also now with the Colts), Zack Ertz (now playing for the Eagles) and Chris Osuwu (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

But the team lacked cornerbacks. The wide receiver skill set and the cornerback skill set are similiar. Sherman saw his opportunities and playing time at receiver dwindling, but he want to make a positive contribution to his team. He went to his coaches and volunteered to make the switch from receiver to cornerback.

First, he had to accept that his dream to be an elite, NFL level receiver had failed. He didn’t dwell on that. He didn’t mope or ask why. He saw one door closing and opted for another. It led to Sherman being an integral part of a Stanford team that would go on to lose only one of its thirteen games (a school record).

He flourished as a cornerback, and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by Seattle. He wasn’t satisfied. He kept working. He kept learning. He kept striving to improve in every facet of his game.

Today, he is considered by many to be the best cornerback in the NFL, and he is a Super Bowl champion.

Sometimes, realizing that we have failed at one dream, and letting that dream go, can give us the freedome to pursue another, even greater dream.


photo: Wikimedia Commons  (

Andi Roo
Andi Roo

Holy WOW! I was enjoying the football commentary, but didn't realize you were gonna go all psychological on me there at the end. Brilliant! And just what I needed to hear. Letting go of a dream isn't letting go of EVERYTHING. It's opening yourself to even better possibilities. I knew this, intrinsically -- {every door closed means another door opens, etc} -- but this example, somehow, someway, brought it home. Thanks for the fantastic and unexpected insight! :)