Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman pushed back on the media and the public’s view of him as a “thug,” saying “stop trying to label people” and using his own background as a Stanford-educated black man from Compton to illustrate his point.

“I’ve kind of had to be a chameleon of sorts because you walk, I mean, you drive from Compton to Stanford and you’ve got to be able to flip the switch. The culture’s too different to treat them both the same and I think it’s not right to treat them both the same,” Sherman told msnbc’s Chris Hayes on Monday, describing his first encounter with Stanford as “culture shock.”

“Where I’m from, there isn’t a lot of culture, a lot of diversity,” Sherman said of Compton, a rough neighborhood in south Los Angeles. “I was kind of shocked [at Stanford]: shocked at the way they’re talking, the conversation, the dialogue.”

Sherman earned a 4.2 GPA at his high school in Compton.

“A kid from Compton who hadn’t seen too much outside the city, to tell you the truth, had to really adjust and really acclimate to that environment,” Sherman said.

Sherman came under fire earlier this month for a passionate post-game interview that he says many misconstrued. “It’s as good natured as you can do in a football game,” he said.

“So this is the big debate,” Chris Hayes said. “After the last game, after the NFL films tape came out in which you’re miked and you make the play you celebrate for a moment and you run up to [49ers wide receiver Michael] Crabtree, and you’re like, ‘heck of a game, heck of a game,’ and the big debate in my office and every office is are you taunting him in that moment…is that a good faith ‘hey hell of a game’ or do you realize you’re, like, putting it in his face?” Hayes asked Sherman.

“I mean the game is going to end in twenty-two seconds… it’s one of those things where the game is gonna be over in twenty-two seconds, if the guy walks to the locker room, I don’t get a chance to say good game, so I guess it’s as good natured as you can do in a football game. I was going to give the guy a handshake before the season’s over,” Sherman said.

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