MIAMI – Can the NFL find a way for Richard Sherman to play in every Super Bowl?
While some might find the 49ers cornerback uncomfortable or obnoxious, if you really listen to what he has to say and how he presents his fearless stances on controversial topics, you would, or should, find him to be refreshingly lively in a sea of drones.
When provoked, his tweets can be full frontal in their insulting assault (right, Mr. Revis?). But it seems more often than not, Sherman’s times on the Super Bowl stage have been a throwback to respectful dialogue as opposed to opposite sides screaming at each other from their predetermined trenches.
This is Sherman’s third Super Bowl after going 1-1 as the leader of Seattle’s Legion of Boom. He continues to make a strong case for the Hall of Fame on the field while being the league’s most thoughtful and entertaining interview off the field.
This week, he has had fun and gotten serious. He has detailed a relationship with a toddler son who’s asking for a Super Bowl ring for his birthday on Wednesday. And he also returned a hard serve when a black journalist asked him if black players should “raise their voices more” when it comes to the NFL’s record on minority hiring.
“I would say I’m a black player, and I raised my voice about as loud as I can,” said Sherman, who also is vice president of the NFL Players Association. “I spoke about it at [Super Bowl LIV] media day, which is one of the biggest days you can say it.”
But that’s not where Sherman stopped. He went on to challenge the media, using a tone that was provocative without being mean-spirited.
“I put more of the responsibility on you, on the media, because you’re asking people who have no say in it,” Sherman said. “You’re asking players. We literally have no say in who gets hired, who gets fired. We have no say on whether we get hired or fired.
“But the people who have a say, we don’t pressure. The owners, we don’t call. We don’t push to get them. When you have them in front of the media, no one asks them the hard questions. You don’t want to rub them the wrong way. You don’t want to get on their bad sides.
“So I almost say it’s [the media’s] fault that we don’t have those answers because none of you guys are asking the hard questions. Everybody feels comfortable asking a player a hard question about, ‘Man, why aren’t these black coaches getting jobs?’ Ask the dudes who hire. Ask the dudes who have all the power in the world to hire and fire these men. Then you’ll get the answers. Or maybe we’re not looking for the answers because we kind of know what they are.”
He also tackled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments about expanding the regular season to 17 games.
“It’s the owners using the media the way the owners use the media to try to control the rhetoric,” he said. “If that’s their negotiating point, I think these negotiations are going to go on a lot longer than anticipated.”
He wasn’t done.
“It’s always odd when you hear player safety is their biggest concern,” he said. “They’re really standing up for player safety, player safety, player safety. But it seems like player safety has a price tag. Player safety up to a point where, ‘Hey, 17 games makes us this much money. So we really don’t care how safe they are if you’re going to pay us this much money to play another game.’
“Players have been more aware of player safety and longevity and life after football. The league kind of pretends they’re interested in it. It pretends that they care about it. Makes all these rules, fines all these players but still proposes players to play an extra game. And not just 17. They’re just really saying 17 so they can get to 18. … That’s what’s so ridiculous about it, and nobody calls them out. Nobody calls out the hypocrisy.”