Sheldon Richardson is angry. He's also confused, frustrated and struggling to think of ways he can help ease the tension back home in St. Louis.
As a young black man who grew up in Missouri, the Jets defensive tackle has strong opinions about the shooting death of Ferguson resident Michael Brown, 18, and the death from an apparent chokehold of Staten Island resident Eric Garner -- both unarmed black men who died at the hands of police. Richardson didn't mince words Thursday when asked about both grand juries that declined to bring charges against the officers.
"A guy got murdered. And a guy got off for it. It's just that simple," he said of the Brown case. "It just happened in New York, too, so it's not just in St. Louis. It's getting where it's pretty bad everywhere now. So much for the justice system."
Richardson called Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, "a pig" on Twitter. He stood by those remarks while saying he wasn't making a blanket statement about police. "I've got friends who are cops," he said. "It was referring to one guy . . . The actions are being done by police officers, who I feel are doing wrong. You're supposed to protect and serve, but you're out killing people."
Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City officer who used an apparent chokehold on Garner, are white, but Richardson said this isn't "a white or black thing."
"I'm far from a racist . . . Someone got murdered. It's just that simple. In cold blood," he said of Brown. "There have been a lot of victims or people who committed crimes that's been apprehended with guns in their hands, and he was unarmed and he died. Six shots? That's a little overkill to me."
He was surprised Pantaleo wasn't indicted because it was an "open-and-shut case," he said.
Richardson supported the five Rams who protested the Ferguson non-indictment with a "hands-up" gesture before Sunday's game, but he doesn't plan to follow their lead.
"Being on camera right now talking about it is me doing something," he said, adding that teammates have expressed opposing views in the locker room on both cases.
At season's end, he plans to return to St. Louis and try to bring constructive change.
"Destroying Ferguson is not what I wanted to come from the verdict of the grand jury. I actually wanted my whole city to stay intact," he said. "I don't think we'll bounce back from that, Ferguson, anyway.
" . . . I just want my hometown to stay as peaceful as possible. But I don't blame them. I know where they're coming from, and I understand. But that's not the solution."