San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman joined a panel that included Rams wideout Robert Woods, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, and LZ Granderson of the Los Angeles Times on a 35-minute Zoom call last Thursday to discuss a variety of topics related to racial and social justices.
It’s impossible to ignore, as uncomfortable as the conversation is for some. Woods said, “It’s almost as if you couldn’t turn a blind eye to it. It was everywhere. All over the news, all over social media. No sports going on. No concerts or activities. So this was all we were seeing, just information on injustice, police brutality, what was actually going on. “You have people who had time, were able to go out and protest, not being able to work. They were actually able to stand for the cause and for the reason.”
Sherman recalled the time Pete Carroll asked what he wanted the team in 2017 to do regarding protests. Carroll pulled the team leaders aside and asked them how they wanted to handle the anthem. Sherman said many of his teammates were sympathetic to the cause, but. feared how they would be perceived outside of the locker room:
“There were conversations had behind closed doors where it was like, ‘Hey, I want to stand with you guys. I want to make the point. I want to protest. I want to do my part. But if I sit, I kneel, I do anything, then I won’t be able to go home to my family. Because my family sees this a certain way.’”
Fast forward to 2020, and Sherman has seen a different side of the players:
“Players are doing everything in their power to use their platforms or their social media, whether it’s press conferences, using their own money, their foundations to reach out and do the actual work.”
The 49ers have done a great job individually and as a team. Jullian Taylor’s Twitter has been dedicated to inequality and justice over the past month. Jaquiski Tartt was downtown San Jose protesting a couple of Saturdays ago, while Kendrick Bourne was on a stage giving speeches.
Sherman said he learned a set of rules that may be unfamiliar for most of America:
“We learn how to deal with police, how to deal with authority figures, how to not look intimidating, how to not be the angry Black man, how to be calm. Because those are things, you need to be able to maneuver in this world as a Black man. If I’m a white suburban kid, I don’t have to learn how to deal with cops and keep my hands on the steering wheel, no quick movements, sometimes put your hands out the window to make sure that you’re not threatening. If anybody runs up on you, try to not seem confrontational. Your parents teach you those things.
Even in college, you have people walking by you grabbing their purse. Because if they don’t know who you are, if you’re not wearing athletic gear, then you’re just an intimidating Black man to them—angry black man.
Every time you go out anywhere, you drive, and the police pull up behind you, you know it’s bad. In L.A., as soon as they get behind you, you know, `I’m getting pulled over. My day is going to be ruined today.’ So it’s hard for me to fully explain the frustration. But I think people are trying to express it and finding different ways to express it, whether it’s protesting, rioting, burning down buildings, etc. Not to say it’s the right way, but that’s how people are expressing their anger because it hasn’t changed.”
The point of sharing these conversations is there’s that there’s a hope you are willing to listen to those that have experienced these traumas and understand what we see in the United States has been going on for decades. Now more than ever is a time to embrace the information we’re receiving and speak up when you see something that doesn’t seem morally correct. You can watch the entire conversation below: