Coach Pete Carroll says he feels he erred in not reporting a “legit” late-season knee injury to Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, here tackling Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones during Seattle’s loss at Atlanta Saturday in the NFC divisional playoffs. David Goldman AP
Coach Pete Carroll says he feels he erred in not reporting a “legit” late-season knee injury to Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, here tackling Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones during Seattle’s loss at Atlanta Saturday in the NFC divisional playoffs. David Goldman AP

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Pete Carroll “feeling like I screwed that up” not reporting Richard Sherman’s knee injury

January 16, 2017 02:39 PM

UPDATED January 17, 2017 01:18 PM

RENTON In retrospect, Pete Carroll sees he erred in not disclosing Seahawks star Richard Sherman played through the last part of the just-ended season with a “legit” knee injury.

"Honestly, I didn't realize we hadn't revealed it,” Carroll said Monday, hours after he told Seattle’s 710-AM radio his Pro Bowl cornerback played the final month-plus with an injury to the medial collateral ligament in his knee. “I don't even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle ... I don't know.

“He was fine about it. He didn't miss anything. The same with Russell (Wilson and his sprained MCL, which the team did report), he was fine about it. I don't know how they do that, but they did."

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Sherman’s knee injury never showed up on any of the team’s daily practice reports, nor on injury reports due to the league 48 hours before each game. Sherman routinely missed a practice each week over the last month-plus of the regular season and the postseason that ended with Saturday’s loss at Atlanta with what the team listed as “NIR.” That stands for “not injury related.”

Asked why Sherman’s injury never showed up on a practice report, Carroll said Monday in his season-ending press conference at team headquarters: "I don't know. I'm feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that because that happened, but he was OK.

“So I don't know. He never missed anything, which is probably why."

This revelation could put the team under scrutiny from the NFL.

Before the 2016 season began the league sent to each of its 32 teams a reminder of its policies on official injury reports. In it is this subsection for practice reports:

From NFL's official injury-report policy, re: #Seahawks, Carroll saying Richard Sherman had significant MCL injury https://t.co/fLSLp5gQKh pic.twitter.com/25pPhSACRF

— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) January 16, 2017

There are precedents for the league fining teams for not disclosing injuries, particularly to star players. In 2009 the NFL fined the New York Jets $125,000 for not reporting an injury to quarterback Brett Favre, for instance.

Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports reported Monday the league had no comment on the Seahawks not detailing or reporting Sherman’s injury until now.

#NFL declines comment on Seahawks’ failure to disclose Richard Sherman injury https://t.co/ujyNiU1tht pic.twitter.com/YFAPTGCE5q

— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 16, 2017

In the pragamtic post-mortem of the season, this is what also is in retrospect: Carroll basically saying “my mistake” after the fact that Sherman was playing with a significant knee injury and dealing with the possibility of a sanction or at least slap on the wrist from the league is preferable to the Seahawks than opponents knowing Sherman was playing each week while potentially compromised. Offense’s game plans would have targeted that potential weakness with top wide receivers and pass plays, possibly exacting a price on Seattle that in games this past season would have been more costly than a possible fine or league rebuke.

Carroll met one more time with Sherman after the team returned from Atlanta early Sunday, and before the three-time All-Pro began his offseason this week. It is following a tumultuous December and January, when Sherman screamed at Carroll and offensive coordiantor Darrell Bevell on the sideline for play-calling decisions during the Dec. 15 win over the Los Angeles Rams, then threatened the career of a Seattle radio host and ended his weekly press conference he called his “privilege” to the media.

"I just wanted to make sure we left on really good terms,” Carroll said. “We talk a lot. I talk with him all the time. I just wanted to make sure to touch base one more time, because it was a difficult year for him.

“The media thing was a big deal and all that. He made it through it. It was hard."