In week eight of the NFL season, many star players came forward to complain about the way officials did their job. Consistent with a pattern of rapid escalation, week nine began with an NFL star telling the commissioner he has no clue either.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman told reporters the NFL ratings dropped because “this is entertainment, and they’re no longer allowing the players to entertain…to show any kind of personality, any kind of uniqueness, any individuality.” Sherman also stated that “the league isn’t fun anymore.”
Sherman lays the blame for stifling personality and fun at the doorstep of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who Sherman claims “hasn’t done a great job, and it’s obvious.”
Sherman did not stop at merely lobbing bombs at the “No Fun League.” He claims the NFL’s talk about player safety is dishonest and more about image. “That’s for public perception,” Sherman opined. “They don’t care about player safety. I’ve said that several times. But they do care about paying the quarterback $20 million and him missing a season.
“They’re tired of $20 million quarterbacks sitting the bench or [being on] IR for the whole season, so they’re going to do whatever they can to protect their investments.”
One cannot dismiss the irony of Sherman’s statements at this particular time in NFL history. Why? He claims the NFL stifles player’s “individuality,” “uniqueness,” and “personality” at a time that allows players to kneel in protest of the national anthem if they so choose, either individually or as a team. This form of protest we now know for a fact has done tremendous damage to the NFL’s brand and ratings, so exactly how have players had their “individuality” stolen?
He further alleges that the NFL talks about player safety in order to secure their highly-paid quarterbacks, not because they really care about the players. He makes this charge in the same week in which Cam Newton, the reigning league MVP, publicly stated the case for his own personal safety on the field, even meeting with the Commissioner to discuss it.
As we’ve pointed out here before, penalties for roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness have occurred less frequently this year, so Sherman’s charge that the NFL has built a wall of red tape around QBs to protect them and no one else clearly does not ring true.
What does ring true? Personality and flair when celebrating great play, within reason, have always had a place in the NFL. Yet, today’s NFL seems determined to cater to the worst, least popular parts of their players’ personalities, specifically the toxic and divisive protests led by Colin Kaepernick.
However, it seems that room for compromise exists here. How about ending anthem protests, and in exchange players can go back to shooting the ball over the goal posts with fade away jumpers, and pulling imaginary arrows from imaginary quivers?
It only seems fair. After all, what hurts the players’ status as role models more, disrespecting the flag or playing Robin Hood?
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn