Why Richard Sherman Says ‘Thug’ Is the Same as the N-Word

The most talked-about cornerback in the nation is calling the bluff of those who want to clean up their racism with code language. 

Richard Sherman  
Richard Sherman   Christian Petersen/getty Images

Player’s Comments Prompt Debate Over ‘T-Word’

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman held a press conference Wednesday in which he addressed the backlash to his fiery post-game rant this week and the fact that so many people called him a thug,” Josh Feldman wrote Wednesday for Mediaite.

“In fact the word was dropped quite a lot this week, and Sherman said it’s ‘disappointing’ to hear so many people use the term. He even went so far as to say it’s a more socially acceptable way of calling someone a n–ger.

“Sherman’s comments drew out some real racism online, with people actually dropping the n-word to disparage him, but most people stuck to criticizing him as a ‘thug.’ Sherman already addressed that term in a column he wrote, but today he went one step further to fire back against that particular criticism.

” ‘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 then they say “thug” and they’re like, “Oh, that’s fine.” ‘ “

On Deadspin, Greg Howard added Monday, “When you’re a public figure, there are rules. Here’s one: A public personality can be black, talented, or arrogant, but he can’t be any more than two of these traits at a time. It’s why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country’s imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive.”

Deadspin ran a chart showing that “on Monday, people said thug on TV more often than on any other day in the past three years” — 625 times.

Blogger Jeff Pearlman said the episode demonstrated another fact about television. Erin Andrews, the Fox sideline reporter who interviewed Sherman when made his remarks, was “a deer in headlights. She did not know what to do or what to say or how to respond. Someone in the control booth clearly told her to send things away from Sherman — and she did. In short, she wasn’t to be trusted with the situation, and Fox’s heads knew it. As much as America responded negatively to Sherman, he was also — after a must-see game — must-see television. Why was he so angry? How far did this go back? Did it stem from something? Would he confront Crabtree afterward? . . . ,”  a reference to  San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the target of his rant.

“Andrews, however, was not signed away from ESPN (by Fox) because she’s a high-caliber reporter, or because she possesses a unique view of the game, or incredible knowledge. She was hired away from ESPN (by Fox) because guys think she’s hot. . . .”

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