BY Art Thiel 05:29PM 09/21/2016

Thiel: Sherman says protests’ point is missed

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman declined to talk football Wednesday, instead lamenting that anthem-protest critics miss the meaning. He fully supports the Garfield High football team’s protest.

Richard Sherman, here at a Super Bowl interview, was dismayed with critics of anthem protests who miss the message. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

RENTON — Richard Sherman understands that Seahawks fans see a football crisis nearing, what with a Super Bowl-caliber team sputtering along at 7.5 points a game. But after a few superficial remarks about the 49ers game Sunday at his presser Wednesday at team headquarters, he politely pivoted away to address what he sees as a real crisis.“I’m not going to answer any (football) questions today — no offense to” reporters, he said. “But I think the state of things in the world today is very interesting.”

Disturbed by police shootings of African-American men in Charlotte and Tulsa in the past week , Sherman used his weekly platform to make a point: America is more absorbed in the nature of the protest during national anthems than the substance of the message.

“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,” he said calmly. “It’s not right for people to get killed in the street.

“You have players that are trying to take a stand, trying to be aware of social issues, and increase people’s awareness, and they’re being ignored. More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point.”

Sherman said in his community work with kids, he tries to be aspirational about their futures.

“When you tell a kid, ‘When you’re dealing with police, just put your hands up and comply with everything,'” he said,  “and there’s still a chance of them getting shot and no repercussions for anyone, that’s an unfortunate time to be living.

“There’s not a lot you can tell a kid.  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.”

Later, at his locker, I asked Sherman whether he had been in touch with anyone from Garfield High School, where Friday night the entire team before a game knelt  during the anthem in support of the cause begun by QB Colin Kaepernick, whose San Francisco 49ers play the Seahawks at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Sherman had no contact, but read about the episode, and was supportive. I asked about what he would say to high school kids about the risks and rewards of protests that will anger parts of the community as well as some police.

“You just have to be aware,” he said. “I’m sure their coaches and advisors have made them aware of the pros and cons. If they’re steadfast in their beliefs and morals, and it’s productive, they’ll continue to get support. There has to be more action than just kneeling. You have to go out there and address the issue. But as kids in high school, it’s about as much as you can do, to be symbolic.

“They’re showing incredible courage, incredible conviction, incredible unity. It means a lot when you do it as a team. I’m sure everybody didn’t agree on everything fundamentally. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and go with what the rest of the guys are going with.”

After Kaepernick’s disclosure Tuesday of anonymous death threats via social media he said he received over his protest actions, Sherman was appalled.

“That’s cowardly,” he said. “People write stuff like that and there’s no consequence. No repercussion. It’s always anonymous. They can hide and tweet anything. That’s an unfortunate part of today’s society, that people can hide behind screens and pins and threaten players’ lives and families’ lives. But a player tries to stand for what’s right, and he’s crucified.

“There’s nothing more cowardly than anonymous sources — even when you talk about an anonymous GM, coach, owner or player. That’s a coward. If you really believe what you said, you put your name on it,  and deal with the consequences.”

Sherman said he hopes those uninvolved in protest can pause to think about the meaning behind the gesture.

“We support Garfield as we support Kaepernick,” he said. “We support the thought and the belief beyond the gesture. I tried to do it a different way. We all try different ways. But we all are trying to come up with solutions.

“The Garfield players are talking and trying to come up with solutions. For as much power as they can have, they’re exercising it.”

Back at the podium, Sherman closed his remarks with this:

“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: (The shootings are) wrong and we need to do something. So thank you, guys. Have a blessed day.”

Lynch adds his voice

Retired Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch joined in on the protest about police shootings. Interviewed on the Conan O’Brien TV show Tuesday, he was asked for his view of the week’s events in Charlotte with the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. On Friday night, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, was shot to death by police in Tulsa.

“With what’s going on, I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” Lynch said, standing and raising his hands. “My take on it is: (expletive), they got to start somewhere.”

Several NFL players have joined Kaepernick in taking a knee. Malcolm Jenkins, Steven Means and Ron Brooks of the Philadelphia Eagles raised their fists in solidarity with Kaepernick’s protest.

“I just hope people open up their eyes and see that there’s really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop,” Lynch said.


  • Bayview Herb

    My position here is simple. Protest all you want. Just do not do it in uniform and on company time. Wait until you are not wearing the uniform of your team. The fans do not show up to the stadium so you could spout off about non football stuff. You, like many in Hollywood, are good at what you do, but that doesn’t make you experts in sociology.

    • 1coolguy

      Agreed – this is their work place and should be treated as such, whether it’s a store, dentist office, etc. Do it on your own time, not the company’s paid time.

      • art thiel

        Do you sing the national anthem every morning at your workplace? Did the nonviolent gesture of kneeling disrupt anything about their work or your observation of the game? Do you know any worthwhile but difficult societal change that has come about without making comfortable people uncomfortable? Do you realize the founding fathers engaged in the same activity with their British governors, and made sure the right to do the same thing against the American government was guaranteed by the Constitution they wrote?

        • Doug Foreman

          My support for just doubled

          • art thiel

            Agree or disagree, aiming to pursue informed honesty,

        • 1coolguy

          Let’s agree to disagree.

          • art thiel

            Fine by me.

      • Effzee

        Are either of you paying their checks? Do you decide Paul Allen’s interest level in politics? If you don’t like what they are doing, feel free to not support it. Its totally your right to not support the entire human in the uniform, and just support the surface level image of them.

        By the way – You do realize that you are exactly who they are pleading with to “Wake up,” correct? They are meaning, YOU, Herb and coolguy. Specifically. Your heroes are pleading with you to open your eyes and ears and hearts to the state of the world, and you want them to just shut their yappers. Good job living down to Sherman’s expectations of you.

        Art – thank you for not being the ones Sherman is calling out for ignoring it. Its the ones like you who will drive change.

        • 1coolguy

          Hopefully we can agree to disagree.

          • Effzee

            The point is that you are welcome to join us in the evolution of the human mind and condition. By responding this way, you identify yourself as The Problem.

          • art thiel

            Effzee makes a point, coolguy. You’re welcome to join the dialogue, which has been the point of the protest message.

  • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

    There are a multitude of reasons people don’t stand to salute the flag,
    regardless of whether it’s the workplace or not, all protected under the
    First Amendment. Few make a big deal about it. Last I checked,
    Jevhovah’s Witnesses opt out of flag salutes for religious reasons. If
    disrespecting the flag (more often than not manufactured in China)
    means having the sacred cloth touch the ground, become soiled with
    excrement, sat on, or sweated upon,apparently this happens millions of
    times a day and again, people don’t get worked up over that either. Some
    even consider it a display of patriotism. (See flag underwear for further details). If it’s the symbolic power
    of the flag we’re talking about, then the professional athletes opting
    out to protest racial injustice are simply demonstrating the power of
    freedom which the flag represents. Far more telling and concerning is
    the violent, mindless reaction by those offended. This in fact does shed
    more light on the issue they’re drawing our attention to. Personally, I’m in great admiration for their courage and sense a paradigm shift in the air.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    If Richard is complaining about people not getting it, then he should evaluate the effectiveness of the methods utilized. I.E. choose a more effective method of protest. If you are going to reference fatherless black children, as he did, then it seems to me that what is going on in Chicago must be part of the discussion.

    • Effzee

      … and what is going on in Chicago exists as a direct result of the conditions that Sherman is trying to bring awareness to.

    • art thiel

      I can’t imagine a more effective method than a silent, nonviolent gesture that is combined with his actions of $1M to charity, and becoming a bridge between authority and community.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Right, but as he himself has stated, his(the players’) message isn’t getting across.

        • Effzee

          Well then, its up to you to think harder about what they are saying.

  • notaboomer

    sherman needs to take a knee. that’s what players do when someone as injured, as is the usa now. also it would be nice to remove national anthems, religion, and militarism from sporting games. and violence. football is all about violence as is shooting people with guns. maybe just canceling football would solve a lot of problems.

    • art thiel

      I think the removal of all political/national/religious iconography attendant to sports events would be step toward the American aspiration of separation between church, sport and state.

  • Paul Harmening

    I am concerned as to how this non football issue brush fire might turn into a Big Sur California type wildfire within sports games. I don’t expect it to, but even brush fires are a nuisance.

    The one media event I’ve been able to get some relief from political and social events that otherwise consume my thoughts and activities is the sports platform, even if it is somewhat intellectually silly. That’s what entertainment is about anyway, is it not? If where I go to receive a necessary break now and then is taken from me, then I’m beginning to ask myself why I should continue to bother with the NFL or any other sports venue I may follow that allows itself to get embroiled in these non sports critical issues of society. Sad. So sad to see that it’s coming to this.

    • art thiel

      Paul, I understand the wish that sports be impervious to real life, but what’s sad is people shot dead in the street by police, and police shot dead by protestors. That is sadness, not your discomfort in discovering a bit of unpleasantness in your funtime.

      You might ask yourself why the anthem is part of sports in the first place, and why we have Air Force flyovers of stadiums.

      • Effzee

        Exactly. If people are *truly* concerned about getting politics out of entertainment, then they should be at least as upset about flyovers and singing the anthem before every sports event as they are about athletes speaking about these issues. Athletes speak up every now and then, but the leagues force that pro-military, nationalistic propaganda down our throats before every single game. If you’re not so upset about the anthem and flyovers, but you do want Sherman to keep his opinions to himself… Then you’re a hypocritical racist. It’s a simple If/Then relationship.

        • Paul Harmening

          People who resort to name calling are not worth listening to.

          • Effzee

            Or you could join the discussion thoughtfully, with an open mind and heart. Its up to you. Nobody is forcing you to keep your opinions from evolving. You can discover empathy whenever you want. Have you ever heard the old adage “I reserve the right to get smarter, later.” ?

          • MrPrimeMinister

            Your previous response, apparently wiped away, was lowest common denominator pure bunk.

          • Effzee

            Its the same response. I changed 4 words to generalize the language to mean the General You, to make it clear that it was not directed at You-You. My mistake was that I thought you would figure that part out intuitively. You know, by way of reading.

            Anyhow… You can avoid the issue, deflect and argue nuance all you want. Or, you could engage in the discussion. The players on the Seahawks would like you to think about the point they are trying to make.

            Its pretty clear that the issue is real. The reason everyone hates talking about it is that it exposes them. Just like Richard Sherman says. People hate to be held accountable. I love the Pete Carroll era. Go Hawks!

          • MrPrimeMinister

            When someone spouts off making wild accusations of being a racist, not only does it not advance dialogue on the topic, but it is actually counterproductive to discussion. People just shut down.

      • Paul Harmening

        I understand the need for Intellectual thinkers such as Sherman, yourself and others whose full time occupation is in the sports world and has a need to express your social concerns on some platform. And yes, I understand that the obvious platform standing for full time sports professionals is the one given you all by this genre. I am not condemning nor condoning. Even though I ranted against this at first, I’ve come around to see these protests as maybe a necessary (evil) for lack of a better word.

        Your job being what it is, how can you not report what is out there?

        I’m a novelist. My fiction novels are all about this political, social and religious world we live in today. I am consumed with research in this genre. I can choose not to read sports posts that I know are of a nature of this one. I can choose not to listen when the subject comes up. I’m really not bothered if players link arms or kneel or sit. That is what the flag represents. God makes the sun to shine and the rain to rain on both the good and the evil.

        I’m just saying that it’s so sad it has all come to this. I’m sad because something that has had for the most part an innocence to it is now being looked at as a means to make a change. So, in that manner, it no longer remains innocently just a sport. I’m sad because maybe just maybe it has to come to this, like it or not.

        • art thiel

          If you don’t want to engage, Paul, because it’s too much, I get that. But keep in mind, as I think you have, that there are people pleased that athletes are using their influence to bring about social change.

          It’s so easy to stereotype pro athletes following headlines of criminal misdeeds or PED use. But a great majority are honest, fair citizens who believe their public platforms should be used to advance causes they deem important.

          As far as innocence in sports, I’m not old enough to remember any period like that. Nor have I read any history that suggests there ever was such a time.

          • Paul Harmening

            I’m engaging, even though uncomfortably.

            Innocence in sports…I could have done better there. I meant participation without demonstration of anything other than the sport itself on the field. Sports gives us natural foes, (fans for or against the team) that we can have fun with. Sports is supposed to be for fun only, isn’t it?

            Now, do we want sports to include something much more heated as this is turning out to be. I’m being called a racial bigot in this post just for the fact that I presented an argument to keep other issues away from the field. I hate those issues as much as any good thinking person and I am personally doing something about it in my way. But I would rather watch or attend a game without having to be reminded in some way how injustice is still fighting to be king. Maybe that’s just being selfish.

            If the anthem was never instituted as part of the sports ceremony I suppose there would be lots of flak if an attempt to do so would be arising now. So I guess because it’s already there, that presents an opportunity to use it as a personal platform other than its presupposed purpose of simply giving a moment to reflect upon the opportunity of playing games in a land the flag represents.

            Social and racial issues have always existed and always will. So now we need sports to use as a platform to protest because governments, voters, community leaders, politicians, business leaders, journalists other than sports journalists are not making a difference? Other than the Olympics way back when, just one time, I don’t recall this sort of thing going on.

            Jackie Robinson broke the white barrier by simply being allowed on the field to play the game at the highest level. He never said a word. He didn’t demonstrate. Didn’t have to. I guess it’s a different time now, huh?

            That’s why I’m sad. It’s a different time now. Really? So if my (incorrect) usage of innocence is taken as ignorance, than I’m guilty.

            Thank you for engaging me Art. Even though this is a bit uncomfortable for me, as by nature I’m not a debtor, I think I may have leaned a thing or two from going through this. I wish it didn’t have to be, as I imagine that could be said for everyone. But it is what it is.

            So, aside from all that, Go Hawks.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Oh, the message is loud and clear. Which is precisely why I haven’t watched a single minute of the NFL this season.


    • art thiel

      Next is the NBA season. Prepare to boycott that. And stay away from prep sports.

  • tor5

    Just read through this thread and I’m actually kind of encouraged. Some strong disagreement, but for the most part the comments are smart and respectful. And if, as the cliché goes, you have to acknowledge the problem before you can solve the problem, I don’t hear much strong argument that there’s not a problem. Still, what I hear Sherm saying is let’s not spend all our energy arguing about symbolic acts that happen in the stadium. We need to redirect this to finding healing in the streets. Not that there’s anything simple about that, but that’s what this is about, and maybe we’re at a point where reasonable people can agree. You have to think that the Seahawks went through this. That is, a lot of argument about taking a knee, but ultimately finding consensus that there’s a problem and that it’s time for reasonable people to lock arms in unity. It’s a good start, if you ask me.

    • Effzee

      Pete was asked how the white players responded to it, and he said something to the effect of, they wanted to understand it, they were open, they learned a lot of things they didn’t know, etc. Would be nice to see the fans of the team learn a bit from the players.

  • OaktownCoug

    The cop ibn Tulsa has been charged with murder. Videos show the guy in North Carolina was armed and the shooting was justified. The biggest problem is rushing to judgment before facts are in – also who really know what Cap and others want. We’d all like to see less deaths by gun fire, and in most cases if the victim had complied with police orders they’d be alive. Sherman is correct – the inner cit needs more fathers involved with their children.

  • notaboomer

    Maybe check out this take on the Seahawks’ unity circle:

    • tor5

      I read this link and couldn’t disagree more. The gist of the article is that there’s only one right way to protest and that the Seahawks’ unity display is a “safe” demonstration that undercuts Kaepernick…and, by the way, that Russell Wilson was the first one to “throw Kaepernick under the bus” by saying that he loves the flag and the anthem as a way to honor the military.

      I think this kind of “you must protest my way or you’re a phony” perspective gets us nowhere. The best way to make progress is to have a big tent where all well intentioned people can come together and attack the problem in different ways and from different angles. Those who want to make it an exclusive club, open only to those willing to adopt specific tactics, are misguided. It seems a lot like MLK vs. X. Progress needed both, doing things in different ways. And, really, condemning people like Russell Wilson – who started his comments about Kaepernick by saying that he “understands and respects the cause,” but that he’s trying to find the best way to focus on change – is just cynical and small minded.