GLENDALE, Ariz. — Of all the things Richard Sherman felt when his Achilles tendon ruptured Thursday night, surprise wasn’t one of them.
The Seattle Seahawks cornerback had been playing through what he described as a “pretty rough” injury to that part of his body for most of the season. He had been listed on the team’s injury report with an Achilles issue before four of Seattle’s first nine games, starting in Week 3.
So when asked if playing two games in five days was partly to blame for it rupturing in the third quarter of the team’s victory Thursday night over the Arizona Cardinals, Sherman said that outcome might have been inevitable.
“I don’t know,” the 29-year-old said. “It was a lot of stress on it, but I think it would have gone eventually anyways. It definitely didn’t help. It’s part of the game. Unfortunately, we had to play. We had to go out there and do everything I could to help my team try to win the game.”
That determination is partly what allowed Sherman to put together an impressive record of availability, having never missed a game over his first six and a half seasons in the NFL. Thursday night marked his 105th consecutive regular-season appearance, which is tied for the third-longest streak among active cornerbacks. He had missed only five snaps this season entering the Arizona game.
Sherman also started all 12 postseason games the Seahawks have played since they drafted him in 2011.
It hasn’t been because he’s always been healthy. Sherman has dealt with some notable injuries.
There was Super Bowl XLIX, when he played with ligament damage in his elbow after he hyperextended it two weeks earlier in the NFC Championship Game. There was the 6-6 tie with Arizona last season, when Sherman played all 95 — yes, 95 — defensive snaps and was so spent afterward that he needed medical attention. Coach Pete Carroll revealed after the season that Sherman played with a “significant” MCL injury for much of the final two months, and after he played through a hamstring injury in Week 3 of this season, Carroll said he had defied the odds to do so.
“That was amazing that he played in that game now,” Carroll said during his weekly radio show with KIRO-AM 710 ESPN Seattle the morning after. “He was resolved that nothing else but that was going to happen. Let your guys that listen to you know: 99 percent of guys would never have played in that football game, but he just willed it somehow.”
Sherman later said Carroll might have been overstating the severity of that injury, but either way, he had already established his credentials as someone willing to play through pain.
That finally caught up to him Thursday.
It’s fair to wonder whether Sherman should have been playing if his Achilles was indeed a ticking time bomb waiting to rupture. He said the team tried resting and treating the injury, “but it was one of those things that just wasn’t going to heal.”
“Doctors have tried to talk me out of playing for years,” Sherman said. “They’ve tried to stop me many years, and they understand that I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to help my team win. It’s not about anything but that. I owe it to those guys, and I gave them everything I have.”