Richard Sherman thinks his Seattle Seahawks have been unfairly targeted by NFL referees -- and the plot to keep his team down goes all the way to the league’s top offices in New York.
Sherman spent the bulk of his 15 minute press conference railing against NFL officials, calling out everything from league bias to an overcomplicated rule book four days after a series of controversial non-calls in a 25-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
It didn’t take long for Sherman to call out the NFL. The second question of the press conference asked whether Sherman believed there was a conspiracy among insiders to hold the Seahawks down through officiating. The four-time All Pro didn’t deny the charge.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Sherman. “We’re always at the bottom of the league for defensive holding or illegal contact or [pass interference]. We’re usually one of the least penalized in that regard, but we’re still one of the highest penalized teams and our opponents aren’t penalized at all.
“I’m sure the league has a way of even-ing out the league. We have a really good team, so, you know, I guess you’ve got to do something.”
With 7.9 penalties per game, the Seahawks have been the NFL’s eighth-most penalized team in 2016. Only four teams in the league have been called for defensive holding more often than Seattle this fall. However, they’ve also been flagged for defensive pass interference just twice.
When asked to explain the conspiracy, Sherman couldn’t get into specifics, but noted the officials were “real connected to the New York office nowadays.”
Sherman was still stewing about the imbalance in penalties on Sunday. Seattle drew 11 flags while the Saints were whistled just twice in the upset victory.
“It is what it is,” continued Sherman. “They’re gonna come back and apologize the next day. We probably lead the league in NFL apologies. ’Yeah, it may have cost you the game, but so what? It’s too late now.’”
The Stanford product also shared his ideas on how to fix the NFL’s growing problems. When asked about why NFL ratings were down this fall, his response was simple.
“Because the league isn’t fun anymore ... This isn’t politics, this isn’t justice, this is entertainment. And they’re not letting the players entertain.”
Sherman later criticized rules he felt hindered defenses across the league and fundamentally changed the style of play from the 1970s and 80s to the present.
“They’re not letting us play defense right now,” Sherman opined. “They’re not letting us go after the quarterback, you can’t half-cover a receiver without getting a flag, you can’t do anything. They can just chuck the ball 80 yards and get an 80-yard penalty and move the ball.
“Make the rulebook a lot less extensive. You've got a bunch of freakin' rocket scientists writing rules, I guess, for a simple game ... They always say they ask players and coaches about rules and rule changes but they really don't take what they say into account obviously because the game is entirely too difficult to officiate.”
It wasn’t the first time Sherman has taken the league and its officials to task. He complained the NFL’s new rules were “something somebody who's never played the game would say” in an interview with ESPN back in March. He also previously called the league hypocritical for suggesting it cares about its players.
Despite his outspoken nature, Sherman told reporters he’s never been fined by the league for his comments.
“Sometimes the truth is the truth is the truth,” said the cornerback. “This is basically reality TV, so I guess I’m good for ratings.”