Richard Sherman has said that the reaction to his post-game comments at the NFC championship game has been "mind-boggling".
The Seattle Seahawks cornerback declared himself as the "best corner in the game", while describing the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree as a "sorry receiver" after the Seahawks sealed a place in next weekend's Super Bowl at the expense of their NFC West rivals.
The 25-year-old told CNN: "It was really mind-boggling the way the world reacted. The reason it bothers me is because it seems like it's an accepted way of calling somebody the N-word now.
"It's like everybody else said the N-word and then they say 'thug' and that's fine. It kind of takes me aback and it's kind of disappointing because they know.
"I've always been a square, a nerd. Kind of odd, kind of awkward. I still am to this day. People just think I'm a lot cooler 'cause I play football. On the football field, you're still going out to there to win, and if you're not going out there to win, what are you going out there for?"
Sherman led the NFL in interceptions during the regular season.