More than a week after Seahawks players and staff stood with their arms linked during the National Anthem—a "demonstration of unity" they repeated during Sunday's game at Los Angeles—Richard Sherman fears too many people missed the point of their actions, which is why during his usual weekly press conference, the Seahawks cornerback was in no mood to discuss football or this week's game against the San Francisco 49ers, instead using his time to address a serious social justice issue.
"I'm not going to answer any questions today, and it's no offense to you guys, but I think the state of things in the world today is very interesting," Sherman told reporters. "You have players that are trying to take a stand and trying to be aware of social issues and trying to make a stand and increase people's awareness and put a spotlight on it, and they're being ignored. Whether they're taking a knee or whether they're locking arms, they're trying to bring people together and unite them for a cause."
For the Seahawks, that cause is to "build a bridge" between different people and communities, and in particular between law enforcement and the communities they serve. And with recent incidences of African Americans being killed by police, Sherman worries that people are misinterpreting the message the Seahawks and other players like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick are sending in the first place. The points, Sherman says, is not to be anti-American or anti-military or anti-law enforcement; it's to bring about meaningful discussion and change.
"I think the last couple days, a couple more guys have gotten shot and killed in the middle of the street," said Sherman, who later continued the conversation with reporters in the locker room prior to practice. "More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point. The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we're locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It's not right for people to get killed in the street.
"I do a lot of community service, I go out there and try to help kids and try to encourage them to be better and to aspire to more. And when you tell a kid, 'When you're dealing with the police, just put your hands up and comply with everything,' and there's still a chance of them getting shot and (there are) no repercussions for anyone, that's an unfortunate time to be living. That's an unfortunate time to be in. There's not a lot you can tell a kid. There's not a lot you can say to inspire a person when you say, 'Hey, we need black fathers to be in the community to stay there for your kids,' but they're getting killed in the street for nothing, for putting their hands on their cars. That's the unfortunate place that we're living in, and something needs to be done. So when a guy takes a knee, you can ignore it, you can say he's not being patriotic, he's not honoring the flag. I'm doing none of those things. I'm saying it straight up—this is wrong, and we need to do something."
Photos from the national anthem during the Seattle Seahawks' Week 1 game vs the Miami Dolphins at CenturyLink Field.