Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman is going to tell you what he thinks, and he’s going to make a valid argument to defend it. He has come to the defense of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, a childhood friend, and questioned the decisions of the Philadelphia Eagles.
In his column Wednesday for mmqb.si.com, Sherman wrote that he doesn’t understand the Eagles' logic of keeping wide receiver Riley Cooper, but releasing Jackson, who signed a deal to join the Washington Redskins on Wednesday.
When Jackson was released last week, some reports stated the Eagles were concerned about possible gang ties for Jackson, who emphatically denied those accusations.
"This offseason [the Eagles] re-signed a player [Cooper] who was caught on video screaming, 'I will fight every n—– here.'" Sherman wrote. "He was representing the Philadelphia Eagles when he said it, because, of course, everything we do is reflective of the organization.
"But what did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he’s not a racist, at least has "ties" to racist activity? They fined him and sent him to counseling. No suspension necessary for Cooper and no punishment from the NFL, despite its new interest in policing our use of the N-word on the field. Riley instead got a few days off from training camp and a nice contract in the offseason, too."
Sherman addressed the issue of Jackson’s alleged gang ties.
"I’m not going to tell you that DeSean Jackson isn’t in a gang, because I can’t say unequivocally that he isn’t," Sherman wrote. "I can’t tell you whether his friends have done the things police have accused them of doing, because I wasn’t there.
"I can’t tell you what DeSean does with his time, because we play football on opposite ends of the country. I can only tell you that I believe him to be a good person, and if you think, say or write otherwise without knowing the man, you’re in the wrong."
Sherman went on to explain what life is like growing up where both he and Jackson grew up in the Los Angeles area.
"I grew up in Watts," Sherman wrote. "I played baseball with DeSean in elementary school on a team coached by his father. His father, Bill, picked me up from elementary school for practice and games because my parents both worked and didn’t finish until later.
"Bill was a great coach and a great man. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, the summer after his son’s rookie season."
Sherman also talks about photos of Jackson with alleged gang members.
"Those men with DeSean in the social pictures and the police reports weren’t his closest friends in childhood," Sherman wrote. "But when his father died, they were there for him.
"Was DeSean supposed to then say, 'Thanks guys, but now that I’m a millionaire, please leave me alone'? In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family. I wouldn’t expect DeSean to "distance himself" from anybody.
"Going to college and playing in the NFL creates a natural distance, but we can’t push people away just because they’re not as successful as us."
Sherman also feels using the term "gang ties" is misleading.
"I look at those words -- gang ties -- and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles," Sherman wrote. "I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things.
"I can’t change who I grew up with, but what I can do is try to educate them on the right way of doing things, help them when they need it, and try to keep them out of trouble.
"There is, of course, a tipping point. There have been times when I realized that someone can’t be helped, because they continue doing the wrong things. Typically, the only time I cut someone off is when they’re in jail, because I can’t help them there."
Sherman made a comparison using the recent arrest of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.
"Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn," Sherman wrote. "Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest.
"Nobody suggested the Colts owner had "ties" to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances [prescription pills] and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote."
Sherman’s point is that men who grow up in the inner city are held, unfairly, to a different standard.
"Go ahead and judge DeSean for the company he keeps," Sherman wrote. "While you’re at it, judge me, too, because I still live in Los Angeles, and my family does, too.
"We didn’t run from where we grew up. We aren’t afraid to be associated with the people who came up with us. We brought some of our money back and started charities and tried to help out a few guys who were with us when we were nobodies.
"I won’t apologize for that, and I suspect neither will DeSean when he’s back on the field doing what he’s always done: grinding through adversity.
"Sorry, but I was born in this dirt.
"NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles, apparently, do not."