Richard Sherman: Fantasy Football Dehumanizes NFL Players

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Though the Seattle Seahawks pounded the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, the team suffered a serious blow.

Seattle lost rookie running back Chris Carson to a terrifying-looking ankle injury.

“It’s terrible when you see things like that because we know these guys personally,” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said after the 46-18 win. “A lot of times the fans know us from the surface and wear 32 [Carson’s number] and he’s running the ball and he’s doing great for my team, but they don’t think about the effects that an injury will have to a guy’s mental capacity and what his family and what his mom and girlfriend and wife might be going through. It’s different, but I’m happy that it’s not as bad as they initially thought.”

The outspoken Sherman lamented how fantasy football dehumanizes players to fans.

“I think a lot of people, a lot of fans out there have looked at players even less like people because of fantasy football and things like that,” Sherman said. “You go and say, ‘Oh man, this guy got hurt.’

“You’re not thinking, ‘Hey man, this guy got hurt—he’s really physically hurt and he’s going to take time to recover and it’s probably going to affect his mental state and his physical state and now he has a long, rigorous rehab.’ You’re thinking, ‘Oh, man, he’s messing up my fantasy team.'”

He continued:

I think that’s why you see the frustration from a lot of players saying they don’t care about your fantasy team. They don’t care about how it affects your fantasy team because these are real players, this is real life. This is real life and this is their real job and that’s affecting their well-being.

Now, your fantasy team may not win, and hey, guess what, you’ll live the next day. This is their well-being. They may not ever get another shot. They may never get another down, another play. And I think that’s why it’s so devastating for players. Thankfully, I don’t think [Carson’s injury is] as serious as we first thought, hopefully, God willing. Trying to be optimistic in this situation.

I’d argue that sports have had this effect on athletes since way before fantasy sports came along.

Still, Sherman is right that fans could never wrap their heads around a player’s serious injury, because they don’t know the individual personally, and in most cases, haven’t suffered the same injury.

I agree that fans could stand to empathize more with player injuries, but the message of the importance of player safety doesn’t hold as much water when it comes from a guy with a list of cheap shots like this and this to his name.