Kobe Bryant’s special connection with 49ers’ Richard Sherman

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Richard Sherman, L.A. native and Kobe Bryant fan, got close to Bryant late in his life. It’s clear that Bryant’s legacy—playing without regard to pain, seeking greatness in a chosen field, then trying to be better in an athlete’s second life than the first—will rule Sherman as a football player and beyond. In a quiet moment late in Super Bowl week, Sherman reflected on Bryant’s impact on him, starting with laying on the field as a Seahawk in November 2017, knowing he’d torn his Achilles. 

“Honestly, laying there, knowing it was torn, Kobe was the first thing that went through my mind. He tore his Achilles [in 2013] and knew his team needed him, and he still shot a free throw after the injury. I was like, I gotta find a way to get up and walk it off. And [Seahawks safety] Kam Chancellor’s like, ‘Get up! Get up!’ So I got up. I could feel my foot just fall. I couldn’t pull it back up. I couldn’t get it to pull back up so it was just kind of dragging on the ground. I knew it was totally ruptured but man, Kobe walked it off so I gotta walk it off.

“He was my mentor. He . . . I don’t like saying ‘was.’ Is, is. Guess I gotta say ‘was’ now. Hmmmm.”

[Pause to collect himself.]

“He was . . . he was the reason my mentality was the way it was. His mentality, his mindset and the way he pushed me and the way he pushed himself was the reason that I pushed through so much in the first place. You have to be able to control your body. Your mind has to be able to overcome any ailments that your body can have outside of the instability of muscle and tears and ligaments. You can’t physiologically overcome that but if I’m saying my Achilles is in so much pain I can barely walk every day, but in my mind I can still walk and my body can still push off and I can still function the way it normally functions, then I should be able to play. That’s the mentality that I got from him. No matter what, you cannot accept no. You cannot accept no. You cannot accept loss for an answer. And so I didn’t, until I couldn’t. Without Kobe’s influence, I probably would’ve went off on a cart, honestly.

“It taught me no matter how great you are, now you want to be the greatest to ever play your sport. You want to put everything you can into it: blood, sweat and tears. Be obsessive over it to the point where’s it’s odd and you’re an oddball. People look at you like, Man, you take it too seriously. Then, once you’re done, you want to be so great in your second life that they look at what you did in sports as secondary. That’s what I got out of it and that’s what I got out of his career and what he was starting to do outside of basketball. That’s what I’ll try to do whenever I’m done with football. . . . Whatever it is. Whatever it is, you have to be the greatest at it. And that really . . . the mentality that you take from sports, the competitiveness, the drive, the consistent work ethic, should apply to everywhere you go. It should apply to being a father. It should apply to being a commentator or a journalist. I have no idea. I’ve got some options but me and the wife are going to sit down and talk about it in a couple years. Hopefully, God willing, I stay healthy and can play that long.

On why Bryant’s death hit so many so hard . . .

“There are certain pillars in life and certain icons . . . such a common, everyday theme in your life that when they disappear, I think subconsciously it’s a greater loss than people you know. It’s like Tom Brady—if something happened to Tom. Or like when Muhammad Ali was in his prime and after he had retired, something had happened to him then. Certain people that give you a comfort of being there even there you don’t know them. Sometimes you don’t even think about them. But you just know they’re there and it’s in your life and it’s foundational: This guy’s gonna be there. Kobe, Jordan. They’re gonna talk about Jeter. They’re gonna talk about Muhammad Ali. Certain greats in these sports you almost think are invincible. Same with Kobe. When they show their mortality, it kind of gives everybody a more than a wake-up call. It’s like an earthshake. And he’s shaking the world.”

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!