Richard Sherman’s own words may have made him the center of attention but it is the language of his critics that is now under fire. The Seattle Seahawks’ talented and talkative cornerback struck back at those who called him a “thug” for his demeanor during a loud and proud post-game interview after the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
“The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays,” Sherman said during a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s like everyone else said the N-word and they said ‘Thug’ and they’re like, ‘Ah, that’s fine.’ That’s where it kind of takes me aback and it’s kind of disappointing.”
Sherman stepped into the national spotlight by following up a win-sealing defensive play with a boastful, postgame rant directed at San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The emotional, candid interview with Andrews — one that took place just moments after the conclusion of a heated football game between division rivals — sparked a Twitter firestorm. On Monday, the interview and the reaction it sparked remained a hot topic of conversation. As measured by iQ Media1, the word “thug” was uttered more times on U.S. television on Monday, 625, than it had been on any other day in three years, reported Deadspin. According to iQ Media1 findings, the Boston television market led the nation with 36 uses on Monday. As noted by Deadspin, many of those “thug” mentions occurred while Sherman was discussed during the television broadcast of WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” radio program.
“What’s the definition of a thug really?” Sherman asked reporters on Wednesday before comparing his antics to those of players involved in the recent NHL line brawl between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. “Maybe I’m talking loudly and doing something I’m not supposed to. But I’m not … there was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and said, ‘Oh, man. I’m the thug? What’s going on here?’”
A 25-year-old graduate of Stanford, Sherman is in his third season in the NFL and has already been twice named a first-team All Pro. Despite his education and his professional accomplishments, Sherman told reporters on Wednesday that he has had to continually deal with preconceived notions about him since he grew up in hardscrabble Compton, Calif.
“I know some ‘thugs,’ and they know I’m the furthest thing from a thug,” Sherman said. “I’ve fought that my whole life, just coming from where I’m coming from. Just because you hear Compton, you hear Watts, you hear cities like that, you just think ‘thug, he’s a gangster, he’s this, that, and the other,’ and then you hear Stanford, and they’re like, ‘oh man, that doesn’t even make sense, that’s an oxymoron.’ You fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and people start to use it again, it’s really frustrating.”