Seattle’s Richard Sherman caused a disturbing firestorm that speaks to race relations in America when he went over the top in a wild, screaming post-game interview Sunday, after preserving his team’s 23-17 win and Super Bowl slot over San Francisco. In the aftermath, the Stanford University graduate was called a “thug” and “monkey” by countless critics on social media sites.
Sherman, who likes to talk and does it well, responded Wednesday:
“We’re talking about football here, and a lot of people took it further than football. I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected and immature, but this is a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes and doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game.
“It is what it is. Things like that happen and you deal with the adversity. I come from a place where it’s all adversity, so what’s a little more or people telling you what you can’t do. I really was surprised. If I had known it was going to blow up like that I would have approached it differently, just in terms of the way it took away from my teammates. That’s the thing I feel regretful about.
“The reason it bothers me is it seems that’s the accepted way now to call someone the N-word. They say ‘thug,’ and that takes me aback. Maybe I’m talking loudly on the field and saying things I’m not supposed to, but there was hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I thought, ‘Oh man. I’m the thug? Geez.’
“I know some real thugs, and they know I’m the furthest thing from a thug. I fought that my whole life because of where I’ve come from [the Compton neighborhood in Los Angeles]. You have a guy from Compton or Watts, they just think he’s a thug. He’s a gangster. You fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and hear people use it again is frustrating.
“Now if they label me a villain, OK. Maybe my actions caused that, but I don’t think I’m a villain. It’s the old cliché: Don’t judge a book by its cover. But they are judging the book by its cover. Judge me off the football field, not on the field right after a game. Now if I had gotten arrested 10 times, I could accept being a villain. But I’ve done nothing villainous.”