Sherman, an older brother to four sisters, grew up excelling in both baseball and football.
Even now, as Sherman has developed into one of the NFL’s premier fullbacks, those who know him best would say that his athletic accomplishments are just a small part of his story.
Growing up in North Attleboro, which sits about 50 miles south of Boston, Sherman was always known as a fantastic football player.
But according to his youth football coach, John Collins, who Sherman is still very close with to this day, there’s much more to Sherman than what you see on the football field.
“Forget the football side of it,” Collins said. “He’s a tremendous person and there’s no ego with him. When you look at Anthony, that’s what you get. A great human being who respects everyone and does not look down at people or say, ‘Hey, I’m a football player.’ There’s no cockiness. He’s true-blooded, plain and simple.”
Sherman played running back and linebacker for seven years with the North Attleboro Rockets, a youth football program coached by Collins.
But there’s much more to their relationship than just a love for football.
“He’s like a second dad to me,” Sherman said. “He’s always been there and that’s the attitude he had day-in, day-out at football practice. I even worked for him in high school. It was just one of those real good connections you make and he had a love for the game and a passion that rubbed off on me.”
Sherman was always known around the area as a standout football player, even at nine years old. Collins recalled one particular game in which the opposing team tried to get in the head of a young Sherman.
“We played a team from Plymouth, and we were in the Super Bowl in Stoughton, Massachusetts,” Collins explained. “The Plymouth coaches and the players are walking into the high school of this Super Bowl and they were chanting ‘Anthony!’ at nine years old—chanting his name. I’m going ‘Are you kidding me? This kid is nine years old.’”
Collins remembers how Sherman handled himself in that situation, holding his head high and not giving into anything.
While his football abilities are widely noted, Sherman was also a very good baseball player.
“He was ambidextrous,” Collins said. “He could actually pitch with both hands and have the same velocity and the same control.”
Sherman played varsity baseball for four years, not as a pitcher but as a centerfielder and leadoff hitter.
Paul Sullivan, Sherman’s high school coach for both baseball and football, recalls seeing Sherman recently over the summer.
“He is exactly the same kid as he was when he was a freshman in high school,” Sullivan said. “He has not changed a single bit. Kids have to make a lot of choices as they go through high school in their personal lives. He was a kid who always made the right choice.”
Sullivan recalled Sherman’s first varsity football game as a freshman at North Attleboro High School.
It wasn’t normal for freshman to move up and play varsity, but on Thanksgiving Day against rival Attleboro High School, Sullivan brought Sherman up to play in the team’s final game of the season.
Playing mostly special teams throughout the game, Sullivan found an opportunity to give Sherman a carry late in the game.
The play was “counter-right,” and Sullivan won’t forget what happened.
“He broke through the first hole and somebody in the second level came up to put a tackle on him,” Sullivan recalled. “He just did a little shift with his feet with his hips and the next thing I know he was standing in the end zone, 30 yards away.”
That was just the beginning of an extremely successful high school career for Sherman, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Massachusetts in 2006.
Sherman played collegiately at the University of Connecticut and was selected in the fifth-round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite success throughout high school, college and the beginning of his professional career, Sherman never settled on thinking he had made it.
“I don’t think I ever got to the point where I thought I was pretty good at this,” Sherman said. “I think that I always knew that I had to really work hard and always keep my head to the ground.”
After being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2013 season, Sherman impressed his new teammates almost immediately.
“He came in right away, learned the playbook and was one of the hardest workers on the team,” Daniel said. “Not only on the field but in the weight room as well. The guys love him.”
Pro Football Focus, a statistical analytics website with a focus on the NFL, ranked Sherman as its No. 1 fullback in the NFL last season.
Opening holes for running back
Daniel praised his versatility and ability to catch the football.
“If we’re in I-formation, either strong or weak, and we’re running 2-back power right at you, or we’re spreading you out and he’s running routes—he catches everything that comes at him,” Daniel said. “You can put him anywhere. He’s playing tight end out there running basic routes and corner routes and isn’t losing a step. He’s out there beating safeties.”
Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson praised Sherman’s ability in the passing game as well.
“He can flat-out catch the ball,” Pederson said. “He’s got great hands. He runs good routes when we do spread him out and he brings a different skillset than a typical fullback.”
More than just catching the football, Pederson explained the kind of teammate Sherman is around the locker room.
“He’s the leader in that running back room,” Pederson said. “He’s a smart guy and he understands his role. We don’t use a ton of fullbacks in this system. He has limited reps [and] limited opportunities. But you know what? He never complains. He comes to work every day ready to work.”
Sherman had 18 receptions on 24 targets last season for the Chiefs, including a touchdown reception in the playoffs. That one-yard reception came on a broken pass-play that turned into a basketball-like chest pass from quarterback
Understanding coach Andy Reid’s system better in his second season in Kansas City, Sherman appreciates how Reid uses players’ talents and abilities.
“I think coach Reid has a great offensive game plan and offensive scheme,” Sherman said. “He does a great job of fitting the players he knows are going to execute certain plays in certain situations. He’ll just put those guys in those situations to be successful.”
Reid appreciates what Sherman brings to the table from a leadership standpoint.
“He’s an energy giver on and off the field,” Reid said. “He’s going to razz you, but you know he’s going to give it his all, too. He’s a great leader.
“I think if you talk to the players, they’ll tell you the same thing—that they respect him. He’s a tough guy. He’s kind of one of those throwback players. His job isn’t a real glory position, but he takes a lot of pride in it and the players respect how he plays the game. He’s also a tremendous special teams player.”
Sherman doesn’t care about personal accolades, recognition or glory of any kind from an individual standpoint—it’s all about the team.
“If I didn’t touch the ball and I blocked all year, it wouldn’t matter to me,” Sherman said. “I get just as excited if I score a touchdown as if Jamaal (Charles), or any of the other guys, score a touchdown.”
This mentality is genuine. There’s no fakeness to what Sherman is saying and it’s echoed by every one of his teammates.
“He’s kind of an old-school, throwback-type player,” veteran tight end Anthony Fasano said. “He does a lot of the work so other people get the credit and he likes it that way. You have to adopt that mentality in the role he’s in and he’s a great guy to do it. He tells it how it is but he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
Jumping in on the Sherman praise is quarterback Alex Smith, who talks about the energy the always-smiling Sherman brings to the team.
“The ultimate team guy [and] totally selfless,” Smith said. “He does a lot of the grunt work, all of the special teams [and] a lot of the dirty work—stuff that doesn't get noticed just to give us a chance to win. And he has no qualms about it.
“He loves it. He loves being a part of a team and around his teammates. He brings a joy to the locker room that is contagious. I know everybody loves him—offense, defense and special teams—because of the personality and energy he brings and the type of team guy that he is.”
That contagious personality is a welcomed sight to the tough, Andy Reid style of training camp, and Sherman shared why he’s always smiling and keeping things loose around the locker room, even during the toughest times of camp.
“Camp is difficult,” Sherman said. “You have long practices, long nights and you rise early. And just to have that positive attitude—it rubs off on people. I love being here so I just try to let everyone else feel and know that.
“Hopefully that can help everyone be in a good mood [and] enjoy camp. You get so much more done when you enjoy it.”
Sherman explained that it’s about much more than just football—that he doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
“A better outlook on life is always an easier day,” Sherman said. “And that’s the way I look at it. I’m always happy to be here. A lot of people would die to be in this situation. You shouldn’t take it for granted.”
Sherman recently missed practice because of the birth of his son, Rex Anthony Sherman.
Becoming a father is something Sherman said he couldn’t be more excited about, and Collins couldn’t be more excited for Sherman and his wife.
Unsurprising to those who know him, Collins said Sherman “was born with shoulder pads on.”
When asked whether or not his son was going to play football, Sherman made it simple.
“Whatever he wants to do, I’ll support him 100 percent,” Sherman said. “I’ll be that crazy fan or crazy father in the crowd no matter where it is just going crazy for him.”
Sherman praised everyone around the Chiefs organization for all their support in leading up to the birth of his first child, and the environment established for him now that his son is here.
“This is the greatest thing about coach Reid and his whole staff is they’re so family oriented,” Sherman said. “You see it here—they got family every day out at practice, at games and all that stuff. Just to have that family atmosphere here—even the players are all about family. [They say,] ‘Hey, if you guys need us to bring you dinner [or] need a night to just relax, we can watch him.’ It’s just been a great experience to have all these close-knit family members.”
One of the most endearing traits of Sherman for Collins, beyond his love of football, is how grounded he is and how he’s never lost touch on what’s important.
“His love of the game and more importantly, his love for his family and his friends, you just don’t see that quality in kids these days,” Collins said. “The respect for the game he has—it’s unbelievable.”
Back at North Attleboro High School, Sullivan still uses Sherman as an example of what the right way to do things looks like.
“It’s just great to see and know that a kid with those values is able to make it at that level,” Sullivan said. “We always tell kids you don’t necessarily have to be the biggest, you don’t necessarily have to be the fastest. But how tough are you? How smart are you? How hard are you willing to work? How many times are you willing to get back up? All of those things go into making you a great player. And Anthony had all of those things to the extreme.”
Genuinely good people don’t find their way to the headlines as often as they should. Things like scandals, controversy and eye-popping headlines grab people’s attention quicker in today’s society.
But every once in a while, we should step back and acknowledge those who do things the right way, treat people the right way and carry themselves in a genuine manner.
Or, to simplify it, you could just use Fasano’s description of Sherman.
“I would describe him as a ‘pit bull puppy,’” Fasano said. “Just crazy and aggressive—like a pit bull.”
Collins would agree.
“If he smiles at you, it’s a genuine smile,” Collins explained. “If he laughs with you, it’s a genuine laugh. There’s no pretend here. It’s just Anthony.”
It’s the same character Collins saw as Sherman’s youth football coach and now his teammates see in Kansas City.
It’s also the same character Sherman will instill in his son, Rex, and with Sherman having four younger sisters, Rex will have plenty of aunts, but he’ll also have plenty of uncles now in Kansas City.