RENTON As Richard Sherman summarized Michael Bennett’s incident with Las Vegas police officers two weeks earlier, he shook his head.
“It’s unfortunate. Obviously, I’m happy that he made it out,” the Seahawks three-time All-Pro cornerback and native of Compton, California, said Wednesday.
“A day in the life, though.”
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It was moments after Bennett described what the Pro Bowl defensive end believes was racial profiling and excessive treatment of him by police while he was face-down on a Las Vegas sidewalk.
“No amount of money, no amount of fame, no amount of notoriety that could keep something like that from happening to you,” Sherman said.
Happening to you, Sherman says, if you are a black man in America.
“Yeah, I’ve experienced that,” Sherman, 29, said. “I’ve been hemmed up, countless times, when I was younger. You live in the inner city, that’s just how it goes. Police are trying to patrol the city, keep the city safe. So, you know...
“A black between the sizes of 6-4 and 5-3, you know? And they are going to get you.”
It’s just that Bennett is the one Seahawk -- the one professional athlete in our country right now, along with Colin Kaepernick -- who would speak up and loudly about his incident and what he perceives as mistreatment.
He has been sitting for a month during national anthems before Seattle’s games to protest the mistreatment of all minorities in this country, including by race, nationality, religion, gender and social-economic status.
Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday the team has met and talked about Bennett’s incident in Las Vegas.
“It’s been a topic for us,” Carroll said four days before the season opener at Green Bay. “You can tell it’s hanging with him.”
“We’ve shared stories over the years. There’s been stuff that has happened enough more than I like to account. We’ve been through these topics before.
“This one was very traumatic.”
Carroll, Sherman and Pro Bowl defensive Cliff Avril, who was with Bennett that night in question and says his good friend remains shaken by the incident, all say this kind of thing happens far more than fans who cheer them realize -- though perhaps not to the extent of trauma Bennett says he’s experienced.
Would fans be surprised -- shocked, even --to know how often something like this happens to 20- and 30-something male professional athletes?
“Yes, yes,” Avril said. “I think people think that you are an athlete or that you are a ‘star,’ quote-unquote, or whatever -- you are only a star in that city that you play in. Most people don’t even recognize you without your helmet on, anyway.
“I think they would be surprised. It’s unfortunate. But you are just another person, really, unfortunately, outside the city that you play in.
“I can’t say I’ve gotten roughed up or nothing like that. Now, have I been, you know, pointed out for other things I had nothing to do with? Yeah. Have I gotten pulled over for whatever reason? Yeah.
“But I can’t say I’ve gotten beaten up or anything like that for no reason. But, it does happen.”
When I asked Sherman what effect this incident was having on the Seahawks’ locker room, he verbally shrugged.
“Honestly, a lot of guys have dealt with this throughout their lives,” he said.
“So we are just happy he is alive. It has obviously brought awareness to the outside world. But for us, it is something that a lot of these guys have dealt with through most of their lives, you know, and just going out in every-day society. It is going to happen to you at least once or twice in your life and maybe more.
“You just have to respond to it the right way and try and stay calm and try and do everything they tell you to do, and hopefully they do the right thing. Thankfully Mike did. And they did the right thing and allowed him to walk away.”
Sherman told two stories of when he played for Stanford. Its campus is surrounded one of the most affluent areas of the United States, the peninsula part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Out in Palo Alto, the east side of Palo Alto is much different than the other side of Palo Alto,” Sherman said, of the smaller city near the Stanford campus that has recently gentrified. “I happened to be over there, actually going to get some Jamaican food because they got good Jamaican food over there, and just got hemmed up. Wrong place, wrong time. I think there was a shooting not too far from where we were and you know, I looked like the suspect, had dreadlocks and around, I guess, my build. But they let me go.
“We had another incident where some neighbors, they called us anytime they needed help moving stuff at Stanford. Some of the donors, very affluent and wealthy people, if they needed help moving a big dresser or something, you know, we needed money in our pockets. We couldn’t get jobs, you know, NCAA, you can’t do anything, but they would give us 50 bucks or so and we would go over there. So I got there first and it’s a neighborhood I’ve never been to before and the driveway was really long, so I’m kind of looking around and kind of driving slowly through the neighborhood and I finally found it and I drove into the neighborhood. Knock on the door, introduce myself and meet the guy. And we were sitting there waiting for my teammates and we come outside to a hard knock. And it’s the police out the door, guns drawn.”
Sherman said that “luckily,” the wealthy Stanford booster and home owner answered the door.
“Because who knows what happens (if I had answered the door),” Sherman said. “And he is like ‘What’s going on?’ And (the police officers) are like ‘Hands up! Hands up! Get out! Is there anybody else in the house?’
“And I’m right behind him. So I come out hands up. I’ve done nothing wrong. But apparently the neighbors called the police because I look suspicious and they thought I was robbing the place. They came with nine police cars, dogs, everything. The guy that owned the place was, like, apologizing, But he didn’t do anything wrong.
“I mean, like I said, it’s gone on your whole life. It’s something we have always dealt with. I think it is becoming more prevalent to the public and people are starting to see it more with all these camera phones and Mike bringing it to life and people starting to see more and more of it. So I guess, it is something that has always been there, though.”