The Seattle Seahawks star and TIME 100 honoree, who just signed a $56 million contract extension, talks about the upcoming NFL Draft, the lessons from his famous post-game interview, and why the NFL would react differently if it had its own Donald Sterling.

I wasn’t really shocked or anything. Because of what I saw after the incident after the NFC championship game. You’ve got a lot of racial backlash, and a lot of racist comments that were uncalled for – I can never see a time where racism is called for. So it didn’t shock me as much as it would have had I not experienced that personally, had I not seen those things.

Because it showed me that America still had some progress to make. On equality, and understanding that it doesn’t matter what color you are, you treat people as people. And whether a good person or a bad person, you don’t judge them off the color of their skin. You can know a person is a good person or a bad person by who they are, not by what they look like. In that situation, it just seems like a lot of people gave him a lot of flack, well deserved, but you know – I feel like a lot more people were surprised then they should have been.

That’s why a lot of people shy away from the conversation that I forced on us in January. People want to it to be done, they want that uncomfortable truth to be over with, they want the racism to be done, they want to believe everything is great and hunky-dory. And it’s not. There’s a lot of racism still alive and still active. And it just forced America to rethink it once again. And to really, really understand that racism isn’t gone. We have to actively push it out. And snuff it out.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life. Do you think if an NFL owner made similar comments, would commissioner Roger Goodell react in the same way, and do you think an owner would be banned for life?

No I don’t. Because we have an NFL team called the Redskins. I don’t think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom line league. If it doesn’t effect their bottom line, they’re not as concerned.

Do you hope the Sterling incident can be a touchstone to force some change on the Redskins issue?

I would hope it would help. It’d help reinitiate the conversation. And at least there would be another discussion. You know, I think the discussion has stopped. And the public has just accepted it. And I think there should be more conversations. But it is what it is.

You’re confident that the NFL would not have reacted like the NBA did because they already have a team name like the Redskins. So to you, that says a lot, right?

It does. It says a whole lot.

Thursday marks the start of the NFL Draft. What was that experience like for you back in 2011? Seattle selected you with its 23rd pick in the 5th round. Did you expect to go higher?

I was excited when I got the call. But I was definitely disappointed, I fell so late. I was told by multiple teams that I would go earlier on the second day [NOTE: when the second and third round selections are announced]. I was called on the second day. And teams said they would bring me. And nothing transpired. So that was disappointing. You feel like teams lie to you. And so it was an emotional roller coaster. During days like that, when you expect to get picked on the second day, the time to wait for the third day feels like you’re waiting years. And when it finally comes, and you don’t get picked the whole fourth round, then it feels like an eternity. Where you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, am I not going to get picked at all? Was it all for naught? It it done?’ Then you finally get picked, and it’s you know, all those worries go away for a second.