Richard Sherman reminded us yet again that professional athletes are not robots.
They are not chips that you can play in your fantasy league.
Despite their wealth and fame, they are citizens and people. Just like you, and me — and Terence Crutcher.
Sherman didn’t want to talk, during his weekly press conference, about Sunday’s game between his Seahawks (1-1) and the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle’s three-time All-Pro cornerback is fed up with the continued police killings of people of color — and by what he says is society losing the message intended when NFL players kneel and sit during national anthems.
“So today — obviously we’re playing San Fran, and they’re a great opponent; they’ve got some weapons: Torrey Smith, Carlos Hyde; they’re running Chip Kelly’s offense; they do a great job; they’ve been getting yards, moving the ball, scoring points — but I’m not going to answer any questions today. And it’s no offense to you guys, but I think the state of things in the world today is very interesting,”Sherman said Wednesday, five days after a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shot Crutcher, an unarmed, 40-year-old black man, while responding to a report of an abandoned vehicle in a road.
“I think you have players that are trying to take a stand and trying to be aware of social issues and try to make a stand and increase people’s awareness and put a spotlight on it. And they’re being ignored,” Sherman said. “Whether they’re taking a knee or whether they’re locking arms, they’re trying to bring people together and unite them for a cause.”
Wednesday was the second consecutive night of violent confrontations between protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, and police. That was after a black father of seven in that city was shot and killed Tuesday by police, who said he was armed. The man’s family disputes that. .
“I think the last couple days a couple more guys have gotten shot and killed in the middle of the street. More videos have come out of guys getting killed. And I think people are still missing the point,” Sherman said.
He referred to NFL players protesting during national anthems. Those actions were begun last month by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane.
The Seahawks have stood and locked arms — players, coaches and staffers alike — on the sidelines during the anthems before each of their first two games.
“The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms is to bring people together, to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street,” Sherman said.
“I do a lot of community service. I go out there and try to help kids and try to encourage them to be better and to aspire to more. And when you tell a kid, ‘When you’re dealing with police, just put your hands up and comply with everything,’ and there’s still a chance of them getting shot and no repercussions for anyone, that’s an unfortunate time to be living. That’s an unfortunate place to be in. There’s not a lot you can tell a kid. There’s not a lot you can try to inspire, say to inspire a person when you say, ‘Hey, we need black fathers to be in the community to stay there for your kids.’ But they’re getting killed in the street for nothing, for putting their hands on their cars. And I think that’s the unfortunate part, that’s the unfortunate place that we’re living in.
“And something needs to be done.
“And so when a guy takes a knee, you can ignore it. You can say he’s not being patriotic, he’s not honoring the flag. I’m doing none of those things. I’m saying it straight up. This is wrong and we need to do something.
“So thank you guys. Have a blessed day.”
Sherman then walked off the stage, down a few steps, up an aisle and out of the auditorium. That left everyone watching to contemplate in silence what he’d just said, what his message stood for and meant about our country.
Which, of course, was exactly his intent.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle