Speaking out for the first time since his mic-dropping rant after the Seattle Seahawks' win over the San Francisco 49ers, Richard Sherman said he believes that "thug" is not-so-coded language for the n-word.
"The only reason it bothers me is it seems like it's an accepted way of calling someone the n-word nowadays. It's like everybody else said the n-word and they said thug and they're like, 'that's fine,' " Sherman told the Associated Press. "That's where it kind of takes me aback. It's kind of disappointing because they know. What is the definition of a thug, really?"
Sherman used recent highlights of the game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames on Saturday, when a fight broke out a mere two seconds into the game, to make his point.
"They didn't even play hockey. They just threw their sticks aside and started fighting," he said. "I saw that and said, 'Oh, man, I'm the thug? What's going on here. Geez.' I'm really disappointed in being called a thug," AP reports.
Since his sideline interview and subsequent social media backlash, Sherman has received much support, including a tweet from baseball great and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. While Aaron doesn't have many miles on his Twitter account, he did reach out, tweeting: "hang in there & keep playing as well as you did Sunday. Excellent job - you have my support."
While Sherman apologized for his rant after the game, he said the biggest disappointment is that his interview took the shine from his teammates who had monster games, most notably Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 109 yards including a 40-yard touchdown and Jermaine Kearse's 35-yard touchdown catch on fourth-down, AP reports.
Sherman said he doesn't regret giving the "choke" sign to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after the game. He said he believes that kind of sparring is a part of the rivalry, and he cited Reggie Miller's infamous "choke" sign, given during the Indiana Pacers come from behind victory over the New York Knicks.
In the end, Sherman said his trash-talking ways would have been more appreciated in the hard-hitting NFL of yesteryear.
"I studied the old school game more than I studied the new school game, and I play it that way. It rubs a lot of people the wrong way," Sherman told AP. "Giving a true speech after a game, a true passionate speech is old school football … I guess maybe I just haven't adjusted to the times."
Read more at the Associated Press.