Thursday, January 29, 2015


The silly little childish game being perpetuated on all of us during Super Bowl week in suburban Phoenix has been the daily parading of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch to the microphone to fulfill his media obligations.

To refresh your memory, on Tuesday's Media Day (where over 100 players are required to make themselves available to the press), Lynch answered every question during his five-minute minimum appearance by saying, "I'm here so I won't get fined."  Yesterday, when he was one of the few Seahawks required to meet the press, he answered every question by saying, "You know why I'm here."  And this morning, when again he was told to appear, he spent nearly two minutes lecturing reporters who inexplicably showed up, saying, "I come to y'all event, and you shove cameras and microphones down my throat," even though Media Day is the NFL's event.  We reporters are just along for the ride.  So he's sticking it to the NFL, not to us.

It's clear Lynch would much rather spend his required five minutes in solitude, listening to music on his headphones or perusing his iPhone, while making it clear he won't answer questions, but he has become such a story by his non-compliance that instead of fewer reporters showing up each day, there have been more. 

But Marshawn Lynch has embarrassed himself, his university, the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL by his behavior this week, not to mention the fact that he's been a very poor role model for kids who look up to him.  Essentially, every time he refuses to talk, he's saying a big "f___ you" to the NFL, just as he did last week when he tweeted that he was "embarrassed" to work for the NFL.  Yes, the same NFL that has made it possible for him to earn nearly $37 million in nine years.

This opinion is shared by others with much more street cred than I have, including Arizona Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote, in an interview with a CBS radio station in Pittsburgh (he has spent 12 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Steelers):

Just to be clear, every player from both teams, along with the head coaches, is required to appear at Media Day.  The coaches and big-name players are typically escorted to podiums, where they sit and answer questions before big crowds of reporters.  The others--the overwhelming majority of players--simply wander the field, or outside the perimeter of the field, or find a place to stand or sit, and they're available for any reporter to approach for an interview.  The bigger names tend to draw bigger crowds.  The lesser names tend to be available for one-on-ones.  The point of Media Day is to designate a two-hour period for each team in which the 5000 or so credentialed reporters can approach any player in uniform, in quest of a story, whether he's first-string or on the practice squad.  It's a great concept, although over the years it's been hijacked to some degree by those non-members of the press who use the forum for their own PR stunts.  

So I think Marshawn Lynch should have sucked it up, and done what every other player did, and cooperate on Media Day.  It's five minutes out of his busy schedule, for god's sake.  Answer the questions, and make the best of the situation, even if you're uncomfortable with it.  Instead, he metaphorically stuck his middle finger out at the NFL.  Did I mention that he's made nearly $37 million,  running with the football, thanks to the NFL?  He should show some respect and some maturity.  Every other player does, even though (as John Madden estimated), more than half of them would probably not show up at Media Day, if they weren't required by the NFL to do so.  That's why he'd get fined for not showing up.  It's not rocket science.  

However, my gripe with the NFL is that it mandated that Lynch make subsequent appearances before the press on the two days following Media Day.  On Wednesdays and Thursdays of Super Bowl week, it's typically the head coaches, the quarterbacks, and a small number of selected players who are asked, i.e., required to make additional appearances.  The NFL, knowing that Lynch has no interest, nor any intention of cooperating, other than to show up to avoid being fined, should have taken the same high road that Lynch bypassed on Media Day, and not forced him to return.  As a result, it became the Theater of the Absurd, starring both the NFL and Marshawn Lynch.  Mandating that he show up on Media Day, which every player is required to do, is proper.  Mandating that he show up on additional days was a complete waste of time for everyone concerned, and did not cast the NFL in a positive light.