Richard Sherman On What Being Called a “Thug” Really Means

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 22 2014 6:47 PM

Richard Sherman On What Being Called a “Thug” Really Means

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Seahawks' Richard Sherman has been the center of attention after his hotly debated postgame interview.

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The reaction to Richard Sherman’s postgame interview, now, has gotten about as much attention as the interview itself. The response has raised questions of race and about the use of coded language by the media, and people in general, in their reactions to Sherman’s interview. On Wednesday, in a press conference, Sherman addressed some of those issues. Particularly, how he feels being called a thug.

Here’s a transcript of a portion of the Q&A, for a video of the press conference check out Deadspin.

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Question: Of all the backlash, the word “thug,” does that bother you more than any of it?
Sherman: The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays. It’s like everybody else said the N-word, and they say “thug,” and they’re like: “oh, that’s fine.” And that’s where it kind of takes me aback and it’s kind of disappointing. Because they know. What’s the definition of a thug really? Can a guy on a football field just talking to people, maybe I’m talking loudly, and doing something, talking like I’m not supposed to…But, there was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and I said: “oh man, I’m the thug, what? What’s going on here?” Jeez. So I’m really disappointed in being called a thug.
Question: Richard, tell me from where you come from, when people say the word thug does that sort of hit the button for you?
Sherman: It does sometimes because I know some thugs and they know I’m the furthest thing from a thug. You know, it’s just, I've fought that my whole life, just coming from where I'm coming from. Just because you hear Compton, you hear Watts, you hear cities like that, you just think—thug, he's a gangster, he's this, that, and the other. And then you hear Stanford, and they're like, “oh man, that doesn't even make sense, that's an oxymoron.” And you fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and people start to use it again, it's really, it’s frustrating.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.