Richard Sherman always understood Colin Kaepernick's message, even if he didn't support the method in which Kaepernick delivered it.
After the now-former 49ers quarterback sat during the playing of the national anthem before a preseason game in 2016, Sherman -- then with the Seattle Seahawks -- said at the time that Kaepernick "could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it," but the cornerback noted Kaepernick was "talking about the oppression of African Americans in this country, and that has been going on for a long time."
Kaepernick consistently insisted that his protest, in which he opted to kneel after consulting with former Seahawks long snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, was a demonstration against police brutality toward African Americans and institutional racism. The QB said it was not directed at members of the military, past or present, but his critics -- ranking as high as soon-to-be-President Donald Trump -- argued Kaepernick was disrespecting his country, its flag and its military service members.
Now, with Kaepernick's protest gaining renewed attention as protestors demonstrate against police brutality and racism around the world following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd -- an African American man -- in Minneapolis police custody last week, Sherman doesn't think the QB's message was misunderstood.
He thinks most people just chose to ignore it.
"He was really straightforward because this has been an issue forever," the 49ers cornerback told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry in a text. "I don't think the message got lost, I think the majority didn't want to hear the message because they didn't feel like it impacted their lives so they avoided an uncomfortable conversation."
Along those lines, Sherman told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer earlier this week that he was "impressed" with white quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Joe Burrow and Ryan Tannehill speaking out after Floyd's death because "their voices carry different weight than the black voices for some people."
The Stanford alumnus said back in the 2016 season that people were "missing the point" of Kaepernick's protest, disregarding it by "saying he's not patriotic." A year later, as Kaepernick remained unsigned into the regular season and Sherman began what would be his last season in Seattle, Sherman said people were "closing their ears" because Kaepernick kneeled as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played.
The outspoken cornerback thought New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees did that Wednesday when he told Yahoo Finance that any players who would protest during the upcoming season would be "disrespecting the flag." Sherman tweeted that Brees was "beyond lost."
He’s beyond lost. Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem https://t.co/ON81UsOWPw pic.twitter.com/HH3EVTIH8p— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 3, 2020
Four years later, with Floyd's death -- as well as those of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville police, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man who was followed, shot and killed by two white men while jogging -- fresh in the minds of protestors around the world, people are demonstrating in support of Kaepernick's message and demanding change.
Sherman said it was there all along. Now, more people are choosing to listen.
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