What if everybody was Richard Sherman, the black NFL defensive back who is the most prominent member of the San Francisco 49ers to excuse the inexcusable from team radio announcer Tim Ryan?
“He was really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing,” Ryan told radio station KNBR during a segment Monday in northern California analyzing the game. “I mean you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point and if you’re a half step slow on him in terms of your vision forget about it, he’s out of the gate.”
Here’s a better way to put it: Despite any combination of colors you can name regarding his uniform and his skin, Jackson rocks.
This 6-foot-3 miracle of a quarterback at 211 pounds continued to sprint (and to throw) his way toward the NFL Most Valuable Player Award Sunday in Baltimore, where he used a slew of zone-read plays for his Ravens to run for 101 yards during a 20-17 victory over the 49ers. With his 977 yards rushing overall, he’s close to overtaking Michael Vick’s 13-year-old record of 1,039 yards rushing in an NFL season for a quarterback.
Jackson is must-see TV, which means he isn’t hurting the NFL’s desire to add more dollars to the record $16 billion it made last season.
In addition, the Baltimore Sun reported that Jackson sits on the edge of endorsement deals worth millions, and with apologies to Ryan, all of this has more to do with his skills than his skin.
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After Sherman told reporters Thursday at 49ers headquarters that “you always can phrase it better” when asked about Ryan’s comments on Jackson, Sherman defended the 49ers announcer who was suspended by the team for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
“If you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they’re wearing dark colors and he has a brown arm,’ honestly, we were having trouble seeing the ball on the field,” Sherman told those reporters. “He’s making a play-fake and sometimes he swings his arm really fast, and you’re like ‘OK, does he have the ball on this play,’ and then you look up, and Ingram is running it.
“Technically, it was a valid point.”
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when sportscasting legend Howard Cosell called wide receiver Alvin Garrett of the Washington Redskins “that little monkey” on Monday Night Football in October 1983?
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis said on national television in April 1987 that blacks “don’t have the necessities” to be presidents, GMs or managers of Major League Baseball teams before adding blacks couldn’t swim due to a lack of “buoyancy.”
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when CBS NFL analyst Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder said during a TV interview in January 1988 that the greatness of black athletes goes back to slavery when “the slave owner would breed his big black (man) to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid,” and that was before Snyder said the lack of black coaches, managers and executives at the time was because it would take jobs away from white folks?
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when Jack Nicklaus said in July 1994 (you know, before Tiger Woods came along) that blacks weren’t good golfers because they “have different muscles that react in different ways?”
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when Fuzzy Zoeller told reporters with cameras rolling at Augusta National after Tiger won his first Masters in April 1997 that somebody should tell that “little boy” not to serve fried chicken and collard greens at the Champions Dinner the following year?
What if everybody was Richard Sherman when Don Imus referred to Rutgers women basketball players (mostly black) as “nappy headed hos?” during his national radio show in April 2007?
OK, OK. Even though this Ryan situation isn’t as racially explosive as some of its predecessors of yore, you know the answer to those questions.
If not, you’re as clueless as both Tim Ryan and Richard Sherman for saying what they said.