San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman says broadcaster Tim Ryan shouldn’t be shunned for the comments he made about Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s “dark skin” making it easier for him to hide the ball from the defense.
Sherman said today that he doesn’t believe Ryan was making a racist comment.
“I know Tim personally and I listened to the dialogue and saw it written, and honestly I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else,” Sherman said. “I understand how it can be taken under a certain context and be offensive to some, but if you’re saying, this is a brown ball, they’re wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm, honestly, sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm real fast and you’re like, Does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it. So it was technically a valid point, but you can always phrase things better.”
Ryan was suspended for saying during a radio interview, “He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing.” Sherman said Ryan was correct in his analysis that the 49ers’ defense was struggling to tell whether Jackson had the ball on some plays.
“It 100 percent is an issue,” Sherman said. “That’s why it wasn’t that offensive, because what he was saying was a great point. . . . He could have used better words, but it was made bigger than it really was.”
San Francisco defensive end Dee Ford also stuck up for Ryan.
“I told him, ‘I got your back,'” Ford said of a conversation he had with Ryan after Ryan was suspended by the team. “The words kind of got taken out of context. I think he knows now he could have used better judgment with his words, but we’ve got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. This era we live in, it’s just what it is.”
The 49ers have said Ryan will not work their radio broadcast of this week’s game. They have not said whether he will face any further consequences. Based on Sherman and Ford’s comments, it sounds like the players on the 49ers think Ryan should return to the booth.