NFL cornerback Richard Sherman takes his gaming very seriously. When he isn’t on the football field, deconstructing offenses and holding interception records, the San Francisco 49er has been known to decompress with a little Call Of Duty.
“Playing video games scratches my competitive itch, while allowing me to rest my body,” Sherman tells Men’s Journal. The five-time All-Pro player has even been taking part in charity streaming events on Twitch, squadding up with fellow NFL players like Darius Slay. “There are similar feelings that come from those competitions—the release of serotonin after a great play and that sense of camaraderie with your teammates.”
Sherman’s life-long passion for gaming made him a perfect fit for Zero In, a new mini-doc series from LG OLED and Ubisoft’s recently released Assassin’s Creed Vahalla. Sherman’s episode gives an inside look at his fitness regime while showing off his cutting-edge gaming setup. The footballer handles the controller like a pro.
We spoke with the future Hall of Famer about his no-frills approach to training, gaming with teammates, and how it plays into his recovery.
Have you always been a big gamer?
I’ve been playing video games my whole life. I remember kicking it with the original Nintendo, playing games like Temco Bowl and Zelda, and it just evolved from there. These days I play a lot of Call of Duty, as well as a few different sports games, mostly basketball. I really enjoyed checking out the new Assassin’s Creed game. It’s cool to be able to have so many different outcomes and adventures, depending on the choices you make.
There’s no doubt you work hard. Does your gaming play into your recovery?
I’ll get some of my recovery in the gaming chair, no question. If there’s any chance for me to multitask, I’m going to do it. I’ll sometimes play with a piece of Game Ready or a NormaTec compression technology on. I’ll do some gaming when we’re training and in season, during my downtime. It’s nice to let my hair down, and let the stress of the day go. Obviously I’m not going hard if I’ve had a long day in camp or anything like that, but our off day is usually on Tuesday, and that’s when I get the majority of my games in. I can play for four or fives hours during a longer session.
Any snacks on hand?
The healthy snacks have to be there, of course, but I’m all about my Starburst and Gushers. I need to have those around when I’m in the mood.
What elements take your gaming experience to the next level?
My gaming chair is from Clutch, and it’s seriously comfortable. That’s important. LG’s new OLED 4K TV has added a lot as well, not just the low latency and quick response time, but also the colors; they’re just insane.
How does your gaming on the field compare with the gaming you do at home?
My competitive spirit comes through in everything I do. Gaming is no exception. I want to do everything I do well. I can’t turn that part off. That’s in my nature. I want to win at everything, and be great at everything. There are elements in the shooter games I can draw similarities to: You’re communicating and uniting toward a common goal, assessing your surroundings, and making quick decisions and movements.
Do you play with anyone from your team or the rest of the league?
I game with a few guys from the league. I played with some of my teammates just the other day. Jimmy [Garoppolo] plays a little bit, [George] Kittle is pretty good, and I play some with Mike Davis from the Carolina Panthers and Preston Smith from Green Bay. Adrian Colbert from the Giants has been getting really good. None of us are pro level as you can imagine. We’ve been smart enough to find a few pro gamers who can help us out.
Who are some of those pro gamers?
I’m with Luminosity, so I’ll occasionally grab matches with a guy on our roster called “Slacked,” who’s been known to do some crazy stuff in Call of Duty. I’ve had my views changed as far as what I believed was possible in the game. What really keeps you going when it comes to playing any kind of shooter or skill-based game, is seeing someone pull off something ridiculous and wanting to do it yourself.
Does the trash talk ever involve the season or does the field ever bleed into the virtual world?
No, that never happens actually. I think we all have an understanding on that level.
Is there anyone out there in the league you’re paying special attention to when you’re preparing for a game and studying tape?
Every person I face deserves my full effort. I treat them all the same—with a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation. They’re all superstar players. As someone who’s played in the league for around a decade, I know that anyone can show up when their time comes, so if you drop your focus at all, they all have a chance to beat you down the field or catch you.
Has your training changed at all over the years? What’s kept you on top for so long?
I have to say I’m just doing what I’ve always done. I’m taking care of my body—eating right, sleeping right, going out there and grinding. There really isn’t any secret formula to success. It’s hard work, dedication, perseverance. I don’t have a chef. I don’t look for any cheats. I stay away from red meat, most carbs, and processed foods. I don’t believe in a new school way of overcomplicating things. I know people who spend too much time on reading data, and not enough time on being great. I find guys who spend too much money and effort looking for shortcuts usually aren’t great.
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