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Sherman says Ali is his inspiration

1/22/2014

RENTON, Wash. -- Richard Sherman has said many times that one of his heroes is Muhammad Ali.

After his recent braggadocios rant Sunday, some people have compared Sherman to Ali's bravado in his heyday.

But Sherman sees Ali in a much more serious light, as a man who stood up for what he believed in during the Vietnam War and refused to be drafted because of his religious beliefs, a stance that eventually led to Ali winning his appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"What he had to deal with is 100 times crazier than it is now," Sherman said. "I think he handled it by continuing to be himself. He didn't hide from it or run from it. He took it head-on. He stood his ground."

And in some ways, Sherman wishes he could have been a part of that volatile era, a time when expressing what you believe was more common than what he believes takes place today.

"That's one of the things I feel like I may be missing out on," Sherman said. "I feel like my game may be 20 years too late. Maybe I watched those guys too much. Maybe I studied the Muhammad Alis and the Deion Sanderses and Michael Irvins.

"I studied the old-school game more than the new-school game. I'm old school and it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Giving a true passionate speech after a game is old-school football. Playing press corner every play is old-school football. I guess I just haven't adjusted to the times."

Sherman, who graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications, said watching old footage of Ali and his life is one of the things that helped him realize he could accomplish his goals. It's the message he tells underprivileged kids today.

"There's no limit to what you can do," Sherman said. "I hope that resonates with them. Regardless of how bizarre my story gets, especially at times like this, it's still remarkable how a kid from Compton and humble beginnings is here. Your circumstances don't dictate your future. You are limitless. You can do as much as you want to do.

"I'm trying to help as many kids as I can, but to not do everything you can to help yourself, you're doing a disservice to yourself. That's what I want the kids to know."