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'Point of maximum awkwardness': Former Seahawk Richard Sherman returns to Seattle as 49er

Tom Gannam
AP Photo
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll talks with (now former) cornerback Richard Sherman before the start of a game in 2015.

The Seahawks are coming off their best win of the season — beating the Carolina Panthers last week 30-27 in the final seconds of the game. With a 6-5 record, the Seahawks are still in the wild-card playoff hunt.

On Sunday, they host the San Francisco 49ers with fans seeing the return of former Seahawks star Richard Sherman. It's the topic of this week's conversation between KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel and Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Sherman was released from the Seahawks in March of this year after having surgery to repair a torn achilles. He wasn't happy. It was an awkward exit for a player who helped the Seahawks achieve so much, including a Super Bowl championship.

Thiel pointed out that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went out of his way to say nice things about Sherman to the media this week.

'Doesn't Want to Feed the Fire'

"He doesn't want to feed the fire in Richard right now," he said.

"I think it was awkward and painful for both sides because I do believe that Carroll is sincere when he respects Richard as an athlete and as a person.

"And I also think that Richard understands how important Carroll was to his development as not only a player but allowing him to have a platform where he was a spokesman for many controversial issues.

"Right now, this is the point of maximum awkwardness between the two of them because this is the first game back. And I really do think that Carroll is apprehensive about it simply because Richard is going to be so outspoken about this.

"Richard said in an offseason interview that he thought the Seahawks had lost their way because they missed the playoffs last year and they were making decisions that weren't working.

"Well, guess what? Pete Carroll made a whole bunch of decisions and it is working because they're playing, I think, better than any of us expected at this point."

The Matchup

Thiel said he thinks the Seahawks will beat San Francisco handily.

"The 49ers are 2-9 and Sherman has had some minor injuries that have compromised his play," he said. "He's not playing as well as he was when he was at his Seahawks peak."

"I do think it is going to be a moment of high drama Sunday, simply because Richard is such a powerful character in the Seahawks' narrartive.

"And coming back here is going to be both delightful and awkward for all principals concerned."

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes orGoogle Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.