By Ed Guzman
Ed Guzman grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Stanford and is a Seattle Times assistant sports editor.
A man who came out of an inner-city neighborhood in Los Angeles. Who has a father that has been working as a garbage man for more than 30 years. Who beat the odds to graduate from Stanford.
I’m talking about Richard Sherman, right?
No, I just described my life.
When I see Richard Sherman, I don’t necessarily see the brash personality. Though admittedly, it is hard to miss and we know it is a part of who he is, even before this week happened.
I don’t necessarily see the extraordinary talent he brings to the football field. But having worked as an on-site editor for all 10 Seahawks home games this season, it’s impossible not to appreciate the standout defensive back he has become.
What I do see is someone who worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today. Someone who started at a certain point and hustled for every last thing he has accomplished.
In other words, I see a tiny bit of myself.
Obviously, I’m not an NFL cornerback, though I’d love to be as good as him at what I do at some point in my career. And I don’t claim to have any deeper connection to Sherman.
But there is something about his story that I have always appreciated, ever since he played football at Stanford. It’s a story that has been told many times and has been available for public consumption, which made some of the knee-jerk reaction to his postgame interview on Sunday so depressing. In some people’s eyes, you’ll always be just an ugly stereotype of whatever race you happen to be.
Sherman’s journey struck a chord because I had grown up under similar circumstances. I grew up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood near downtown L.A. as the son of Mexican immigrants. My father has driven a garbage truck for a living since 1972. Once I got to Stanford, I became the first one in my family to graduate from college.
The way Sherman approaches his job is also something that feels familiar to me. When you get this far and want to accomplish certain goals in your line of work, it’s impossible to do so without a drive that comes from years of trying to better your life. Even when you achieve success, you’re ready for more obstacles. As Sherman himself said this week: “I come from a place that’s all adversity, so what’s a little bit more? What’s a little bit more of people telling you what you can’t do and what you’re not going to do and what you’ve done?”
Beneath the talk and bravado, there’s a deeper individual there, and nothing I’ve seen or read from those who cover the Seahawks on a regular basis has led me to think otherwise. Sherman has already had a life experience that will serve him well as he matures.
And this is not to gloss over or excuse anything Sherman said on Sunday. It’s not easily explained away, as the attention put upon it has made apparent.
But we should be aware there’s more to him than that. There might even be traits of his you’ll recognize in yourself or in people you work with, and that’s not a bad thing.
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