RENTON The varied, fully unchecked, outspoken and don’t-give-a-rip Richard Sherman was on full display. Again.
Minutes after the Seahawks’ three-time All-Pro cornerback gave a touching description of why he was at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center in Tacoma last week, he went after “idiots” in the NFL who are keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the league.
Sherman was asked before practice on Tuesday if he was surprised Kaepernick, a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl 4 1/2 years ago, is unemployed while teams across the NFL play journeyman quarterbacks with losing pedigrees.
“No, I’m not that surprised. This league is odd in that way,” Sherman said.
“They had a point to make. And they made it.”
That “point,” in Sherman’s mind and that of many others around the league, is teams and owners punishing Kaepernick for being the first NFL player to sit then kneel during the national anthem before games last year. That was to raise awareness for social and racial inequality in our country, a movement that has gained league-wide support and momentum this season.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick has become a martyr. And Sherman’s point is teams aren’t just saying no to employing him but hell, no.
“People are vehemently saying ‘NO!’ Just say, no,” Sherman said, knowing his Seahawks were the first team to have Kaepernick in for a free-agent visit this spring--only to sign the bounced-around Austin Davis (10 career starts) to be their backup soon after instead of Kaepernick.
“It’s not like he’s a bad player. It’s not like we are talking about a guy who’s never won a football game, who’s never taken his team to a Super Bowl” Sherman said. “There’s quarterbacks out there (in the NFL) that’s never taken their team to the playoffs, never had a winning record, that have jobs, that are starters in this league.
“And you hear every excuse in the world: ‘It’s not his system. This system doesn’t work him.’ These quarterbacks are terrible in ANY system. There are quarterbacks who are bad in EVERY system.
“And,” Sherman said, shrugging, “(teams say) ‘So what?’
“Then you hear these coaches and scouts that are like, ‘Well, you know, we didn’t like him coming out of college.’ People didn’t like Tom Brady coming out of college; he went in the sixth round. Like, these people aren’t know-it-alls, you know what I mean? They don’t know everything. These scouts don’t know everything. Aaron Rodgers fell to (24 in the first round of the NFL draft). How many people would turn around and regret that decision?
“People should be losing their jobs, because they are idiots.
“You’ve heard every excuse in the book for why (Kaepernick) doesn’t have a job, but you can see what it is. They’ve agreed not to give him a job.”
That is precisely Kaepernick’s allegation, collusion by teams to keep him out of the league, that has him filing a grievance against the NFL.
Sherman wasn’t done at just Kaepernick or Ellie’s lost “Shermie” doll on Tuesday.
He rebuked a common criticism of those against players sitting, kneeling or otherwise making statements of unity and social and racial inequity during the anthem before games.
“I think that’s what gets missed sometimes with players, because they’re like ‘Oh, stick to sports, stick to this,’ and a lot of people have used the phrase like ‘privileged athletes’--“Oh, these privileged athletes, you guys are rich millionaires,’” said the native of Compton, California, on the hard side of Los Angeles. “And it’s like, ‘Well, seven years ago, I had negative-45 dollars in my account. What was I then?’
“You know what I mean? I was still a black guy. I was still a kid from the ‘hood. And we will never forget those moments.
“What privilege did we have, you know? The privilege to be blessed that our hard work and dedication paid off, and that we were able to change our family’s lives, to change our lives, and to live better? That doesn’t change our memories or what we remember happening in our childhood.”
Sherman was saying he believes “that sticks true” to Seahawks teammate and his teammate at Stanford, Doug Baldwin, in Baldwin’s initiatives for equality and criminal justice reform in our country.
“And (it) sticks true to a lot of players,” Sherman said. “That’s why guys are so passionate about coming together and making a difference and making a stand, and doing everything they can in terms of making a difference for social injustice. Because no matter what, before we had all of this money, and after we’re dead and gone, our skin is still black. We’ll still be looked at a certain way. And all we want is equality for everyone.
“I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
“And it’s just great to have a guy like Doug continuing that fight, and continuing to take it beyond what others have done.”