Webster’s Dictionary defines a thug as a rough criminal.
Many members of the mainstream media define Richard Sherman, All-Pro cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks as a thug as well.
“The reason (being called a thug) bothers me is because it seems like it’s an acceptable way of calling somebody the N-Word,” Sherman said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s like everybody else said the N-word and then they say ‘thug’ and that’s fine. It kind of takes me aback and it’s kind of disappointing because they know.”
They (his critics) know that Sherman pulled himself up by his bootstraps and escaped an impoverished, volatile and violent upbringing in Compton, Calif. to earn straight A’s at Dominguez High School.
His acumen in the classroom and on the football field earned him an athletic scholarship to Stanford University where he graduated early with a degree in Communications to go along with a 3.9 grade point average.
After being drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Seahawks, the member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity pushed himself to where he is now the best cornerback in the league.
Richard Sherman has never been in trouble with the law. Based on Webster’s definition of a thug, his life does not meet the criteria for being a rough criminal.
On the other hand, when quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (the Seahawks’ opponent in the Super Bowl) entered the league in 1998, there was a debate over who was the best quarterback prospect that year, Manning or Ryan Leaf.
Leaf was drafted number two overall by the San Diego Chargers, one pick behind Manning but his career took a nose dive almost immediately.
In 2013, Leaf (who is White) was kicked out of a drug rehabilitation center after threatening employees and sent to a correctional facility.
Prior to his rehab stint, the former Washington State star was charged with breaking into two houses in an attempt to steal prescription drugs.
Leaf’s most memorable moment with the Chargers was being restrained by teammates like Junior Seau after verbally attacking a news reporter.
His rap sheet would qualify him more for Webster’s thug criteria than Richard Sherman, but White athletes are usually not branded with the thug moniker as quickly as their Black counterparts.
Sherman was brutally criticized for his postgame rant directed towards 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree during an interview with Erin Andrews of Fox.
Game footage shows that Richard Sherman told Crabtree “hell of a game,” after his tip led to a game-clinching interception. Subsequently, Crabtree pushed Sherman in the facemask after the verbal exchange.
Richard Sherman did not direct his tirade towards the reporter like Leaf did years earlier, but Sherman is considered the thug.
Often, athletes just pump their chest and “spit” nonsense during press conferences and interviews, but Sherman’s statement that the word thug is simply a replacement for the N-word is one of the most profound statements I have ever heard from anyone, not just an athlete.
For decades, any Black man that spoke slang, had cornrows, tattoos, drank an alcoholic beverage or used profanity was called a thug by mainstream America.
Calling most or all Black men thugs is simply saying that most or all Black men are rough criminals, which is the epitome of ignorance and racism.
Many people believe that one has to hate a group of people in order to be racist.
However, even if you do not overtly hate a group of people, everyone has the potential to utter racist comments. And if you utter racists comments, like randomly calling Black men thugs, that person has racist views buried somewhere in their subconscious.
The Bible (Proverbs 23:7) states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Not verbally saying the N-word or anything overtly racist does not make one not racist. If you think things that are racist, you are a racist.
The time has come to stop randomly calling Black men thugs whenever they show any emotion, passion or personality.
Years ago, when tattoos became popular in the NBA, many Black players with tattoos were labeled as thugs and their White counterparts were labeled as “free spirits.”
If one group is labeled as thugs, then the other group should share the same label. On the other hand, if one group is labeled as just free spirits, then the other group should just be free spirits too. There is no difference.
There are many Black men, and White men, who fit Webster’s definition of a thug. Those are the people committing acts of violence like armed robbery, rape and murder.
The only thing Richard Sherman is guilty of is being smart, athletically talented, outspoken and philanthropic, because he constantly gives back to his community.
If that is a thug, I want to be a thug and I want my children to be thugs also, and Webster’s needs to change their official definition to fit the profile and likeness of Richard Sherman.