This video starts with me teasing Richard Sherman that his weekly press conferences just aren't the same without the cardboard Doug Baldwin he brought to his skit last month that mocked the NFL:
I know most of you want football, football and then some more football on here. And yes, we know what's at stake for the suddenly rolling Seahawks (9-4) on Sunday at home against the 49ers (7-6), and how San Francisco seems to be in free fall since Seattle last saw the Niners on Thanksgiving.
But Richard Sherman is worth more than that.
Working around professional athletes every day I tend to hear the same general tone and perspective on upcoming games, recent games, certain players, etc. The words are different, the issues may change. But the depth of insight and tenor of the views are generally the same.
Then there's Sherman.
Today, again, the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback was remarkable in how he puts his personal thoughts into rich, insightful words. His two best responses were not about football on the field. They were on what he sees as each NFL player's social responsibility in our nation's ongoing struggle with race relations and police interactions with minorities, and on Roger Goodell outlining a new personal-conduct policy for a vote by owners for implementation in the wake of this summer and fall's huge Ray Rice domestic-violence issue.
Sherman was asked if he or Seahawks players might make a public statement or act as others in the NFL and NBA have by wearing "I can't breathe" inscribed on warm-ups shirts before recent games. Those gestures have been after the refusal of a grand jury in New York and another one in Missouri to charge white police officers with crimes in the deaths of African-American Eric Garner after a policeman's choke hold on Staten Island and Michael Brown, who also was black, being shot while unarmed in Ferguson, Mo.
"It's something that you talk about (in the locker room). ... but everyone has their own choice to make. It's our duty as a nation to come together in these times and to recognize it," Sherman said, eloquently as usual. "I don't think, I don't know how one individual gesture or even a team -- there are a lot of guys making gestures that are very respectable and send out a message.
"I think that being together and being great role models as players is our duty is the thing we can do. Not going out there and doing things that aren't reputable. I think guys that are making a stand are admirable; they are doing a great job. The rest of us could make a stand like that. That would be fantastic. Because everyone should have the rights; no one should walk out and be scared when they walk out of their house. If they aren't breaking any laws they shouldn't be fooled with.
"As a nation, we have our things to clean up. Until we get to that point, the best things we can do as players is to be great role models."
When I asked him to confirm then that he doesn't feel compelled to make a personal statement on a game day about the issues, the high-profile Sherman said: "I feel like every time I try to make a personal statement people think I am being an individual and trying to bring attention to myself. I think an issue like this, attention has been brought to it, to recognize the players' statements.
"The biggest statement I can make is, be true to yourself. There shouldn't be these color lines. Racism ... everybody thinks it's gone. And it's not. The moment we recognize that as a nation is the moment we step forward -- the moment we recognize these moments as opportunities to take a step forward and improve our society.
"But, you know, I could say that all day. What difference does it make unless a lot of people change?"
The cornerback sounded almost senatorial.
Apparently some Seahawks fans have been encouraging the players to take some sort of stance at Sunday's home game against San Francisco.
This was the first coach Pete Carroll had heard of this. Carroll said he trusts his players to make the appropriate statements, to speak "from their heart" -- if they choose -- on these race-police issues.
"The fact there is a call out in the country, that's totally in order," Carroll said. "Everyone wants to see change. It's a very powerful time right now. There is a lot going on, and our guys are aware of it. I hear them talking about it.
"Changing times. Things are going crazy right now."
Sherman also had some solid logic on Goodell presenting a new personal-conduct policy to the owners for a vote -- without negotiation with the players' union.
"I think it's interesting any time you make changes to a policy that we collectively bargained and you don't collectively bargain for it," the Seahawks' representative to the NFL players' union and an NFL Players' Association executive council member said. "Like the PA was saying before, it's one of those do it by the seat of their pants, make it up as you go along (situations).
"You would think -- you would hope -- that anything having to do with the players, especially discipline and things like that, players would have some say so in the policy, at least something we could agree on, something that we are comfortable with. But, obviously, that's not how they saw fit.
"The PA has always been interesting in discussing a change with the league. The league saw it fit to make a change without consulting with the PA."
The audio after the video, including this discussion of the personal-conduct policy, is here: