Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says he's matured over the past year since his first Super Bowl appearance. Yet as he prepares to help lead his team into a clash with the New England Patriots in hope of repeating as champions, he remains outspoken.
In a column for The MMQB, Sherman talks about a wide range of topics, including the teammates who've helped him become a star and his first child on the way. Most interestingly, he provided his thoughts on commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL's current leadership structure.
The fourth-year player out of Stanford understands the league's commissioner is acting in the interest of the owners. He's disappointed, however, that former players like Troy Vincent haven't been able to help the current group more despite moving into key positions:
On a bigger level, I look at the NFL today and I'm as disappointed as ever in its management. Commissioner Roger Goodell operates at a high level, but he's doing what 32 owners tell him to do. I once believed that having more retired players in the league office could remedy this, but the former player in the highest position, executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, continues to disappoint. When he told Adrian Peterson he'd receive a two-game suspension and the league failed to deliver, he became just another suit.
He also talked about the league's response to Marshawn Lynch being uncomfortable with the press. The NFL fined the running back $100,000 in November for failing to meet media obligations. Sherman doesn't think that's fair:
Under Goodell the league continues to put players like Marshawn Lynch in a position to be mocked by the media, which seems to get a kick out of seeing people struggle on camera. As teammates we're angry because we know what certain people do well and we know what they struggle with. Marshawn's talking to the press is the equivalent of putting a reporter on a football field and telling him to tackle Adrian Peterson.
The cornerback goes on to state people want players to talk, but only if it's what they want to hear. He points toward the backlash some players received after voicing support for public movements like those in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
Sherman has become a mainstream voice over the past year. Not only is he one of the league's best defenders, but he's also shown he is willing to stand up against the league. Whether fans agree with his stances or not, it's easy to tell he takes his growing role as a voice for the players seriously.
By taking aim at Vincent, he illustrates that the issues players have with the NFL leadership's structure go deeper than just Goodell. Perhaps it's something he could look to address himself once his playing career is over, but that's still a long way off on the horizon at age 26.
For now, the focus shifts back to the Patriots ahead of Super Bowl Sunday.