We have all wanted to speak up about how we really feel about our boss haven’t we? One Seattle Seahawk has done just that. By now you will have seen the video of Sherman talking about how what he feels is the league’s attitude and appreciation of players, their health, player fines, and how rookies view the world.
Speaking about player health Sherman suggested that NFL wants to keep players like Cam Newton who may be injured on the field for financial purposes, “because it would affect the ratings”.
Similarly when referring to fines and suspensions for players Sherman had this to say; “I think that people forget when a player gets suspended for anything they lose four games, and four game checks is more than $50,000 any day of the week no matter what. I think things like that need to change. Guaranteed contracts obviously need to change. There needs to be more guarantees for players because you go out there and break your neck, you do permanent damage to your body, it’s nice to know at least you will make some money at the end. There are players that injure themselves pretty badly and walk away from this game with not a lot of money and not a lot to show for it and that’s’ the unfortunate part.”
Many of you will be frustrated by his rant. What’s a £50k fine to someone on a contract worth several million? Others will say “there is too much money in the sport”. But is it really about that? There is money in the sport because is it an extremely successful worldwide brand. The players are the brand and as such should earn their share of the spoils. It’s not their fault that there is that much money on offer, you would take it.
Richard Sherman was also quoted as saying “If people say they don’t like this, if people stop watching for any reason, they will change the game, they will change the rules, they will do anything they can to make sure people continue to watch”.
This is true but only to a point – no one is going to not watch. We all watched the replacement referees a few years ago, everyone still watched as Wes Welker was sent out to play, trying to avoid head injuries with his enormous helmet, and we all watched as this season kicked off despite ‘boycottnfl’ hashtags in answer to players kneeing during anthems to highlight one of the most divisive issues in America in modern history. The position of strength is still with the League.
You may wonder about the risk of so publicly biting the hand that feeds, but Sherman is an intelligent guy, he is a Law graduate from Stanford, and made the move seamlessly from College receiver to All-pro cornerback in ways Tony Lippett can only dream of, there must be a plan here for Sherman. While I sympathise with his plight, and he is probably right about a lot of things, nothing will change any time soon. Perhaps when the current labour agreement runs out following the 2020 season, but until then this may all be tomorrow’s cat bedding.
Richard Sherman is the Seahawks’ representative to the NFL Players Association as voted on by his teammates.
Photo copyright: AP.