A day before he was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was compared to John Carlos and Tommie Smith at a discussion about “The Modern Black Male Athlete” at Harvard University on Wednesday.
Sherman, along with former NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, spoke on a panel on race that was titled, “The Modern Black Male Athlete.”
According to the Associated Press, “Foxworth compared Sherman to Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who were sent home from the 1968 Summer Games for raising their black-gloved fists to call attention to the plight of blacks in America.”
After his rant heard around the world after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers in the NFC title game last year, Sherman caused even more controversy when he said at a press conference that “thug” is the accepted way of calling someone the “N-word.”
Time named Sherman one of its 100 most influential people and staff writer Sean Gregory wrote in his tribute:
Sherman’s rant solidified his reputation as one of the brashest and most candid players in the buttoned-up NFL. More important, it sparked a national conversation about race, stereotyping and sportsmanship. When critics labeled the dreadlocked defensive star a “thug,” Sherman, a Compton, Calif.-raised Stanford graduate, engaged the debate, asking if the term was today’s way of calling him the N word? In a heartbeat, Sherman altered the discourse and emerged as the smartest voice in the room.
At a time when most pro athletes flee social questions, Sherman tackles them head on. And he backs it up on the field too, leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl win. So keep talking, Sherm. We have much more to learn.