An Open Letter To Richard Sherman
Before I begin this letter to Richard for those of you who have not seen the latest in the “trash talking” controversies that Mr. Sherman has found himself in, I will include this video from the post game interview from last night’s game.
I should preface this letter by telling you that I am in total awe of not only your skills and talent on the field but also of your achievements in education and charity. I know like me, you come from a place of very little means and even less promise of a bright future. I know that making a commitment as a child to rise above circumstance through hard work and perseverance takes a kind of bravery and yes, bravado that most people will never understand.
Having come from Compton and not only using your physical talents but also your intellectual talents to propel yourself to where you are today, an all pro defensive back in the National Football League with a Masters from Stanford, you are truly worthy of praise.
I also understand that to achieve all you have, you had to at times deal with nay sayers, haters, people who want nothing more than to keep you down, if for no other reason, to keep them company. You had to protect yourself from other’s negativity so you built yourself a suit of armor piece by piece over the years to deflect the hate , the doubters, those that wouldn’t or couldn’t believe in you the way you needed them to. A suit of armor made of confidence that lit the darkness of doubt, an armor to protect yourself those who would drag you down and try to make you feel unworthy of success, education or praise. I know you needed that armor Richard, growing up in a world that most people will never understand, you had to wear it daily.
I know when you first put it on you had hoped that one day you would be able to take it off and live comfortably in a world where you have earned respect and a right to happiness and self pride. You as a very small child wanted to live in a world where people would respect, love and admire a child like you. A boy who wants to better himself, excel and be the best. You wanted to live in a world where you could raise children who had people around them who wanted the best for them, gave them the tools and encouragement to achieve their greatest dreams whether it be to be a N.F.L. star or the President of the United States.
Here is the good news Mr. Sherman, you do.
Through your hard work , you have elevated yourself above the hate, the crime the darkness and contempt. You can take off the armor that protected and served you well in the past and finally lighten the weight that you have carried. It is time to elevate yourself one more time.
I am not saying that you should not celebrate your success on or off the playing field, I am saying do not take pleasure in the defeat of your opponent. You taught yourself to not listen to the negativity, you taught yourself to rise above those who would love to see you fall, to struggle to fail. I ask you now to teach yourself to not be one of those people you tried so hard to protect your young heart from. Give all of your opponents the respect you should have gotten as a child, yes even if they have yet to give it to you.
Think of these words from Ernest Hemingway, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
I’m not asking you to lose your fire, or that incredible competitive heart that has made you the player you are today. I want you to go out there and dominate, I want you to crush your opponent even to to the point where his will is broken but then when it’s over, I want you to reach down grab his hand and help him off the ground, thank him for the challenge and respect his effort. That is being a man, that is being human.
You will see that when you take off that ridiculous armor Richard, the armor that has become so heavy through the years that you have needed it, you will become so much lighter and finally , easily rise above all that you have fought against.
Remember all that you have learned, relish in all you have accomplished but for you own sake remember the world and the person that young boy wanted. Be the change you wish to see.
And dude…. hell of a play!