I was lucky to be drafted by Pete and John, who
assembled around me one of the most talented and diverse defensive
backfields in football. More than I want individual success, I want to
be remembered as part of the Legion of Boom, which is why all of us are
on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine this week. In football,
unlike various other sports, it takes a total team effort to be
I can’t perform at
this level without Kam Chancellor, the lion of the Legion, the guy who
once picked off Peyton Manning by ducking to make it appear as though he
couldn’t leap for the ball. He’s also the guy we go to with our
problems, who doles out advice about a lot of issues that arise outside
I can’t perform at this level without Earl Thomas—The Example—who can
show you how to do the right thing better than he can explain it. When
everybody else is joking, he’s locked in, a reminder of what we’re here
I can’t perform at this level without Byron Maxwell, our chill guy,
oblivious to the pressure. I remember him joking around with Carroll in
our rookie camp, saying that if he was allowed to play nickel he’d choke
out the slot receiver. Carroll relented and Maxwell delivered, only to
get injured in camp. Now he’s the corner on the other side, and his
consistently high level of play makes QBs’ decisions very difficult.
I can’t perform at this level without Jeremy Lane, the scrappy guy
from Tyler, Texas. Competition brings out the dog in him; just look at
what he’s done to the Packers’ Randall Cobb.
He’s also entirely sound on Roger Goodell. One thing I always pay attention to with regards to public figures is how they are regarded by those closest to them. The men who tend to have the strongest characters are those whose friends and colleagues are loyal and stand by them even when the heat is on. The fact that Sherman, the most famous and outspoken member of the Legion of Boom, doesn’t pretend to be the top dog but instead defers to Chancellor as the leader, helps explain why a collection of fairly low draft picks – one first-rounder, two fifth-rounders, and two sixth-rounders – evolved into the most fearsome defensive secondary of all time.
It’s strange how many people involved in team sports insist on focusing exclusively on individual talents when the evidence clearly indicates that how well you operate as part of a unit is more important for ultimate team success than your individual talents. I suspect it may not be an accident that at least two of the Legion of Boom members, including its leader, are devout Christians. And although Sherman doesn’t come right out and say it, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the original plan had been to put him on the cover alone.
And if the Seahawks do knock off one of the two best pairings of coach and quarterback in NFL history, that will be further testimony to the sum being greater than the whole of the parts. I can honestly say that aside from the original Purple People Eaters and the Buddy Ryan Bears, I haven’t enjoyed watching a defense more than Seattle’s over the last two years. I wasn’t the only one who decided the Super Bowl was over after seeing this hit by Chancellor. Watch the battle between him and Gronkowski for an early clue on how the game will turn out.