One of the common (if not always coherent) criticisms of NFL players who protest is that because they’re rich, they know nothing of the struggles they’re protesting.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman takes exception to that. Citing the joint letter supporting criminal justice reform penned by teammate Doug Baldwin and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Sherman said that real differences can be made by guys, even if they’re referred to as “spolied millionaires” or less charitable labels.
“I think what he’s doing with Goodell and that is fantastic,” Sherman said of Baldwin, via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. “He’s been doing that work for years now, meeting with police and trying to work to change, and I think that’s what gets missed sometimes with players, because they’re like, ‘Oh, stick to sports, stick to this.’ And a lot of people have used the phrase like ‘privileged athletes.’ ‘Oh, these privileged athletes, you guys are rich millionaires.’
“And it’s like, well, seven years ago I had negative $45 in my account. What was I then? You know what I mean? I was still a black guy, I was still a kid from the hood, and we will never forget those moments.”
Before he went to Stanford, Sherman grew up in Compton, Calif., so he has a connection to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality of which he speaks. So even though he and Baldwin have signed lucrative exemptions, they’re still quite aware of their upbringings.
“What privilege do we have?” Sherman said. “The privilege to be blessed that our hard work and dedication paid off, and we were able to change our families’ lives, to change our lives, and to live better. But that doesn’t change our memories or what we remember happening in our childhood. I think that’s something that sticks true to him [Baldwin] as well, and sticks true to a lot of players.
“That’s why guys are so passionate about coming together and making a difference and making a stand, and doing everything they can in terms of making a difference for social injustice because no matter what, before we had all of this money, and after we’re dead and gone, our skin is still black, we’ll still be looked at a certain way, and all we want is equality for everyone. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and it’s just great to have a guy like Doug continuing that fight, and continuing to take it beyond what others have done.”
Of course, if they’re not privileged, it must be that they’re disrespecting fallen soliders or hating America. Nope, they’re not doing that either. Perhaps some day, people will listen to the content of their message, without getting hung up on the messengers or the time of delivery.