Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman talked at length about Colin Kaepernick on Monday, saying he appreciates the stance of the 49ers quarterback but that he could have picked a better platform.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who has found himself in spotlights both favorable and harsh for things he has done and said during his NFL career, said Monday he appreciates the message Colin Kaepernick was trying to send by not standing for the National Anthem Friday but that the 49ers quarterback “could have picked a better platform.”
That was hardly all Sherman said on the topic, though, as he was typically thoughtful when he addressed the topic when asked during his regular weekly meeting with the media on Monday.
In fact, it’s probably best to just pass along all of what Sherman said so the context and nuance is not lost (you can also view Sherman’s answer in the video above, which starts with a question about Jimmy Graham’s recovery but then includes what he said about Kaepernick).
First, Sherman was asked for his thoughts on what Kaepernick did and the response he has gotten.
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I thought that was interesting. Obviously, what he meant was in a good place. He wanted to make a stand. Obviously, anytime you don’t stand during the national anthem, people are going to criticize it. And that’s the unfortunate part of it. You can’t ever stand against the flag. A lot of people have sacrificed for it. But there is also a deeper meaning to what he did. He’s talking about the oppression of African Americans in this country. And that has been going on for a long time. I think a lot of the focus has shifted away from his message and shifted to some people, rightfully so, to him taking a stand against the nation, etc., etc.
But I think there are also things in this nation that people need to remember and take heed of and also acknowledge. This country is the same country that had ‘whites’ and ‘colored’ signs on the bathroom. We’re still in that country, we’re still in that nation. And that needs to be acknowledged and that needs to be changed. There are people with that mentality that still exists, and that needs to change. There are people who still treat people of color with subjectivity. They treat them a certain way. They categorize them. They put them in a certain category. There are certain statistics that are put out there to make sure police profile certain people in certain neighborhoods, and that needs to change. So there is some depth and some truth to what he’s doing. I think he could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it, but every day they say athletes are so robotic and do everything by the book. And then when somebody takes a stand like that, he gets his head chopped off.
Asked a follow-up about the fact that athletes such as Muhammad Ali have at times taken political stances that drew criticism, Sherman said:
Like you said, Muhammad Ali not going to fight the war. I’m sure he was viewed very similarly during that time. As time went on, as people understood his message and what he was standing for, the feeling towards it changed. Obviously, he’s an American and he thinks America is as great a nation as anybody else or else he wouldn’t be living here, I’m guessing. But he also understands the trials and tribulations that he goes through as an African-American male in this country. People say, ‘Oh, he has all this money so he doesn’t deal with those problems.’ Well, all the money in the world can’t buy you freedom, can’t change your skin color, can’t get your family out of that. And not only do you have to deal with that but your family has deal with it, your kids have to deal with it. And it’s unfortunate, and I think people need to take a step back and acknowledge that. Acknowledge that there were wrongs in this country. Acknowledge that there were people getting hosed down in the street and dogs getting sicced on them for standing for what they believed in, and that’s unfortunate.
At the same time, you’ve got to honor your country. I think football is a tremendous asset but it can also be a motto for what it means to be a team. Me and coach (Darrell Bevell) were talking earlier today, and he was like, ‘Ever since I was a kid when I first started playing or coaching, when you play football, you’re not concerned whether you’re throwing to a black guy or a white guy or an orange guy or an Asian guy. You’re concerned about getting the ball there, executing your job, winning. You’re concerned about playing for the next guy, playing for your brother, and I think that’s something the nation can take from sports. The Olympics were also a great example of how everybody comes together and nobody is saying, ‘I’m not going to run against this guy because he’s black, white, orange, blue.’ They’re running to compete for their nation and to win. They don’t care what color the people on their team are. They’re supporting them, they’re supporting their country, and that’s how it should be all the time, regardless of circumstance. I think it will be a long time before we get there, but hopefully we’re trending that way.
Asked if he or anyone in the locker room has ever discussed not standing for the Anthem, Sherman said:
I think some of the guys have talked about it. I haven’t particularly been in those discussions, but I’m sure some of them…If it’s going to happen, we do a national anthem every game so we’ll see.
And finally, asked what he would say if a younger player asked him about sitting during the Anthem, Sherman said:
I’d just tell him to think about the pros and cons. Every action has an equal or greater reaction. There’s going to be criticism. There’s going to be backlash. There’s going to be people behind screens that’ll judge you, criticize you. That’ll say whatever they want about you and you have to be willing to deal with that.