Watch NFL star Richard Sherman's powerful plea for social justice

The NFL season is in full swing, but this year is shaping up to be very different as politics is mixing with football in a striking way.

We've already seen players - notably Colin Kaepernick - protesting by kneeling or locking arms during the national anthem to make a stand against racial inequality and injustice.

Now Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has made his own protest - appearing in a news conference in which he refused to answer questions about his side's upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers and instead making a powerful speech about the state of society.

Sherman said: "You have players that are trying to take a stand and trying to be aware of social issues and try to make a stand and increase people's awareness and put a spotlight on it and they're being ignored."

He continued: "I think the last couple of days a couple more guys have gotten shot and killed in the middle of the street. More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point. The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we're locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right.

"It's not right for people to get killed in the street."

Miami Dolphins players kneel during the national anthem
The Miami Dolphins' Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills knelt during the national anthem before their game against the Seahawks (Stephen Brashear/AP)

In recent days two more black men - Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma and Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina - were shot dead by police.

Sherman went on: "I do a lot of community service. I go out there and try to help kids and try to encourage them to be better and to aspire to more. And when you tell a kid, 'When you're dealing with police, just put your hands up and comply with everything', and there's still a chance of them getting shot and no repercussions for anyone, that's an unfortunate time to be living.

"It's an unfortunate place to be in. There's not a lot you can tell a kid. There's not a lot you can say to inspire a person when you say, 'We need black fathers to be in the community to stay there for your kids', but they're getting killed in the street for nothing, for putting their hands on their cars. And I think that's the unfortunate part, that's the unfortunate place that we're living in. And something needs to be done.

"And so when a guy takes a knee, you can ignore it. You can say he's not being patriotic, he's not honouring the flag. I'm doing none of those things. I'm saying, straight up, this is wrong and we need to do something."

Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem
Colin Kaepernick (centre) began the wave of NFL protests (Chris Carlson/AP)

In refusing to take questions, Sherman is defying NFL rules which state he must do so at least twice a week during the season.

The Seahawks take on Kaepernick's 49ers on Sunday.

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