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Richard Sherman fires back at Antonio Cromartie: 'That was unfortunate'

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said it's "unfortunate" that New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie criticized him last week, saying Sherman isn't the best cornerback in the NFL because he doesn't switch sides of the field.

"That was unfortunate," Sherman said Tuesday after Seattle finished an OTA session. "You would think after me helping him get a Pro Bowl bid [for the 2014 season] ... We went to the Super Bowl and he wouldn't have made it to the Pro Bowl otherwise. And now he's talking bad."

Cromartie, who played for the Arizona Cardinals last season, made the Pro Bowl as an alternate because Sherman and the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl, so Sherman couldn't play in the Pro Bowl game the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

Last week, Cromartie said Sherman benefits from the Seahawks' defensive alignment, which allows him to stay on one side of the field.

"Go follow the No. 1 receiver," Cromartie said. "Follow him around for a whole entire game and let's see what you can do. Darrelle Revis [Cromartie's teammate now with the Jets] has done that his whole career. I've done that. Patrick Peterson [of Arizona] has done it. Joe Haden [of Cleveland] has done it. [Sherman] is the only defensive back that hasn't."

Sherman has switched sides a few times in his career to follow the opponent's top receiver, but not often because it's not part of Seattle's defensive scheme.

"I think it's just one of those things that it's the ignorance of the public," Sherman said. "How many great left tackles do you see switching to the right side because a great D-end switches to the right side? You don't see it.

"Great players stay on their side and do what they're supposed to do. How many guys have you seen switching from side to side on a No. 1 defense? You've never seen it. We're the No. 1 defense for a reason. Who coaches a No. 1 defense to be worse?"

Cromartie also said Sherman benefits from having Pro Bowl safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the same secondary.

"Go play in a defense where you don't have two All-Pro safeties," Cromartie said. "That's what I would tell him."

Sherman is used to the criticism, which he says goes with the territory.

"I guess when you're doing something great you're always going to have naysayers and detractors," Sherman said. "They just need an excuse for why we're great and why we have so much success. They have to give themselves some credibility somewhere.

"It is what it is. We're No. 1, so it must be working. It's an effective strategy for us. Obviously, we're playing at a high level. We're going to keep doing what we do. We've been No. 1 in scoring defense the past three years. If it ain't broke, don't break it."

Sherman also said he was happy to avoid surgery on his injured elbow in the offseason since the procedure likely would have left him sidelined for up to nine months.

Sherman initially believed he would need Tommy John surgery on his left elbow after being injured in the NFC Championship Game. But after speaking with other players and consulting with doctors, he decided against the surgery for now.

Sherman said he's been rehabbing most of the four months since the Seahawks' Super Bowl loss to New England, but he has been able to participate in the OTAs. He said it could be something that will need to be surgically repaired in the future if it causes problems.

"I was relieved. I knew I would never have to throw a left-hand fastball so there was a chance I could avoid it," Sherman said. "I started taking opinions from different players and apparently a lot of O-linemen get the injury and they do just fine with it. I felt confident that I would be able to play without getting the surgery, just rehab."

In the Super Bowl, Sherman said he couldn't fully extend his left arm. He was part of a secondary that was battered by the end of the game, with Sherman, safeties Thomas and Chancellor and cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon all either playing through injuries or having suffered injuries in the game.

"We didn't talk about it. It was just one of those things. You look up at the end of the game and you're like, 'Wow, we kind of battled through this,' " he said. "Obviously losing Jeremy in the first quarter, and he was having a phenomenal game, had an impact. It's never any excuses for us. We played as hard as we can. Unfortunately, they came out with the victory."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.