Richard Sherman, never one to mince words, believes he knows why NFL television ratings continue to decline.
"Because the league isn't fun anymore," the Seattle Seahawks star cornerback said Thursday. "Every other league, you see the players have a good time. It's a game. This isn't politics. This isn't justice. This is entertainment. And they're no longer allowing the players to entertain.
"They're no longer allowing the players to show any kind of personality, any kind of uniqueness, any individuality. Because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging, etc., etc."
The presence of helmets, which makes many NFL players less visible to the public, contributes to the league's sense of uniformity. And this season, the league and commissioner Roger Goodell have cracked down on player celebrations.
Earlier this season, Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was fined for pretending to shoot a bow-and-arrow. His teammate, tight end Vernon Davis, was later fined for simulating a basketball shot.
NFL viewership is down across the board so far in 2016, leaving many to speculate on the root causes. The league has attributed the dip in part to election coverage. It also contended that San Franisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest was not a contributing factor.
Sherman, though, is confident he knows the reason. The shutdown corner says, "(Goodell) hasn't done a great job, and it's obvious."
"They say we're trying to influence kids, and that's their biggest thing," Sherman said. "That's their biggest ploy is you don't want to be a bad influence to kids. You don't want to be a bad role model. And I can agree with that.
"But in the same breath, you can't say Budweiser is the official sponsor of the NFL, and we're trying to influence kids. So there's a ton of hypocrisy, but it doesn't matter because we don't control it."