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Richard Sherman: Privilege doesn't change the color of our skin

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says the efforts of NFL players to engage in social issues shouldn't be discredited because they're wealthy.

Sherman made that point Tuesday while lauding his teammate and close friend Doug Baldwin. Along with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Baldwin co-signed a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing support for a bill that seeks criminal justice reform. Baldwin also has been active in trying to promote change in other areas such as de-escalation training for police.

"I think what he's doing with Goodell and that is fantastic," Sherman said of Baldwin, his teammate at Stanford. "He's been doing that work for years now, meeting with police and trying to work to change, and I think that's what gets missed sometimes with players, because they're like, 'Oh, stick to sports, stick to this.' And a lot of people have used the phrase like 'privileged athletes.' 'Oh, these privileged athletes, you guys are rich millionaires.'

"And it's like, well, seven years ago I had negative $45 in my account. What was I then? You know what I mean? I was still a black guy, I was still a kid from the hood, and we will never forget those moments."

Sherman, who grew up in Compton, California, has been one of the NFL's highest-paid cornerbacks since signing a four-year, $56 million extension in 2014. Baldwin, who is from Gulf Breeze, Florida, signed a four-year, $46 million extension last year to become one of the league's top-paid wide receivers.

"What privilege do we have?" Sherman asked about NFL players. "The privilege to be blessed that our hard work and dedication paid off, and we were able to change our families' lives, to change our lives, and to live better. But that doesn't change our memories or what we remember happening in our childhood. I think that's something that sticks true to him [Baldwin] as well, and sticks true to a lot of players.

"That's why guys are so passionate about coming together and making a difference and making a stand, and doing everything they can in terms of making a difference for social injustice because no matter what, before we had all of this money, and after we're dead and gone, our skin is still black, we'll still be looked at a certain way, and all we want is equality for everyone. I don't think that's too much to ask, and it's just great to have a guy like Doug continuing that fight, and continuing to take it beyond what others have done."