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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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New audio of the Ferguson shooting. Plus, Obama approves reconnaissance flights over Syria.

New audio of the Ferguson shooting. Plus, Obama approves reconnaissance flights over Syria.

January 22nd, 2014
06:34 PM ET

Richard Sherman: Thug is the new n-word

(CNN) - NFL player Richard Sherman responded to critics Wednesday, specifically addressing racist reactions to his post-game rant Sunday.

Sherman took issue with people who, after watching him rant about an opponent on Sunday, called him a thug.

"This seems like it's the accepted way of calling somebody the n-word nowadays. It's like everybody else says the n-word, and then they say thug, and, 'Oh, that's fine,'" Sherman told reporters.

"What's the definition of a thug, really? Can a guy on a football field just talking to people, you know, maybe I'm talking loudly and doing something, you know, talking like I'm not supposed to, but I'm not - you know, there's a hockey game where they didn't even play hockey. They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and I said, 'Oh, man, I'm the thug?'" said Sherman.

"It's almost covert racism. Richard Sherman is exactly right," said Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise. "When we see a hockey guy swapping fists with another hockey guy who happens to be white, all of a sudden those two people are 'enforcers.'"

Wise said he's not "going to completely be his apologist," saying Sherman's rant was poor timing given his team had just won a spot in the Super Bowl. But the sports columnist noted that the Seattle Seahawks cornerback has been the target of some unfair criticism for his angry, boastful comments Sunday.

"The greatest crime in American sports for an African-American athlete now ... is arrogance," said Wise. "You can be an actual criminal and be thought of more reverentially than you were if you were arrogant. I think it's wrong. There's something about it that bothers me."

For more of our interview with sport columnist Mike Wise, check out the video above.

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