Leave Marshawn Lynch Alone

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My immediate memories of being a sports fan revolve around the actions on the court and on the field. Whether it is Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders after a three-point barrage in the 1992 NBA Finals, Michael Irvin catching a bomb from Troy Aikman or watching a baseball launch over 400 feet into the stands off the bat of a Texas Ranger at The Ballpark in Arlington, the common theme is that actions of some of my favorite players are louder than words.

Which brings me to Marshawn Lynch, aka Beast Mode.

My favorite Marshawn Lynch moments revolve around his football ability, the way he makes people miss, the way he drags wannabe-tacklers with him, as well as his ability to run through defenders. Simply put, Beast Mode is about that life. He lets his play do the talking, and for us who are fans of him, that’s all the talking we need. That’s why watching the last two days of media obligations have not only gotten on my damn nerves, they’ve also left me completely fed up.

On Tuesday during Media Day, Beast Mode spoke for a little over six minutes, but it was plain as day that he would have rather not had to do so. It’s not that Beast Mode is a jerk. He's far from that. It’s just that he would rather not talk. He just wants to play, and yes, he gave an interview to Deion Sanders, but that’s Deion, not some longstanding, entitled member of the media who feels that a player “has” to speak to him or her. No, Prime Time is Prime Time, and it was obvious that when they were speaking, Beast Mode felt completely comfortable and Deion did his part to aid in making him comfortable. If that was Beast Mode’s last media obligation for the week, then all would have been well …

… but then came Wednesday.

Watching Lynch sit in a chair with a horde of reporters all around him with microphones in his face and talking over each other was not an ideal situation, and while some people are able to maneuver in that type of setting, it’s obvious that Beast Mode would prefer not to. He was jittery the entire time, and anyone with a set of eyes and half a brain would tell he was uncomfortable. Once again, it wasn’t a case of him being a jerk or standoffish during that time. Hell, he even reiterated his appreciation for the attention, but he would prefer to not have to be there and said it respectfully.

If y’all are a bridge between the players and the fans, and the fans ain't really trippin', so then what’s the point? What’s the purpose? They got my back. I appreciate that. – Marshawn Lynch at his mandatory media session on Wednesday morning.

When Lynch said this to a reporter, it made complete and total sense. As a fan, I understand and appreciate the role of the media, and when players want to talk, it’s all good. As with actions on the floor, some of my favorite sports memories involve the media talking to athletes, but when a player doesn’t want to talk to the media, I am perfectly okay with that as well. I have yet to find a fan that cares, for real, that Marshawn Lynch would prefer not to talk to the media, and before someone chimes in and says, “Well, Lynch doesn’t HAVE to do anything,” you’re right, but that comes at the expense of losing his hard-earned money.

Reporter: I understand you’re a private person, but you’re very highly visible and something that you’re very skilled at …
Beast Mode: And you see what it do, right?
Reporter: Yes, I do. So how hard is it to balance that?
Beast Mode: It’s not.
Reporter: Why?
Beast Mode: ’Cause it’s not. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m not the one with the problem with it. The people that I play for and the 12s don’t have a problem with it. The media has a problem with it.
Reporter: I don’t think anyone has a problem with it. It’s just that they like …
Beast Mode: Well, it’s a problem if they choose to take something away from me … for not doing it.

Once again, Lynch has a point, and while I’m sure the reporter’s heart was in the right place when he said he didn’t think anyone had a problem with it, that’s simply not true, as evidenced by the Pro Football Writers of America’s comments about Beast Mode’s conduct yesterday. When a statement starts out as “several of our longstanding and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer questions,” I could only laugh at their entitlement.

First off, it brings home a point that Michael Tillery has made over and over and over again, as well as something Jesse Taylor wrote about earlier this week on TSFJ. The media needs diverse voices to help capture the narrative and the essence of the game to the best of its ability. Secondly, instead of the PFWA’s “longstanding and high-profile members” being appalled at Beast Mode, maybe they should be appalled at their damn selves for not diversifying their clique. Third, he answered questions, so them saying “his refusal to answer questions” is not true. He just didn’t answer them to their liking. It’s easy for people to point at Lynch and say he’s the problem because people will run with that instead of looking at the totality of the situation and realizing that the other side could use some work as well.

The bottom line is this: I’m ready for the game, as are fans all over the world and, especially, Marshawn Lynch. He summed it up perfectly in his interview with Deion on Tuesday when he said that he’s never seen any talking win him anything. Come Sunday, he’ll do his talking on the field. Until then, leave Beast Mode alone.

9 Replies to “Leave Marshawn Lynch Alone”

  1. OK, I'm with you on some of this and not with you at all on other parts of this. I agree, as a fan, I don't care all that much if Marshawn Lynch doesn't talk to the media, doesn't want to be interviewed, etc. If he wants to take a fine and not talk, do that.

    But, here's the thing. Number 1, whether he likes it or not, whether it makes him uncomfortable or not, talking to the media absolutely is part of the job of a professional athlete. That's why the leagues make it mandatory for players to talk to the media. It is part of being in the NFL, period. You don't have to like it. You don't have to cooperate. And I'm OK with that. But it's definitely part of the job.

    And on top of that, I get why players feel more comfortable talking to former players like Deion - but at the same time, by only talking to someone like that, he's not letting the media do its job. Whether we care or not, if a media member did get an interview with Marshawn, did get insights others haven't, we'd probably read it. I know I'd love to learn more about him, read more about him if I could. And while I'm completely OK with him not wanting to do that, not wanting to be private, I think it's the media's job to try and get those stories if they can.

    Now, I absolutely think it's childish of the PFWA to petition the league to fine Lynch, but if every player did what Marshawn does, there'd be no interesting stories relayed, reporters would not be able to do their jobs very well and the fans wouldn't learn some things that really help keep us interested when the games are over.

    Honestly, I don't think anyone is in the wrong here. Marshawn showed up because that's part of his job - no matter if it's the primary purpose or not. And the media was doing its job trying to get something to write about a key player in the league and in the biggest game of the year.

    When you're a professional athlete, media coverage and interest into your life comes with the territory. You have every right as a player to decide how you want to do that, but you also need to realize that it's part of the job of a high-profile, highly paid professional athlete.

    At the end of the day, I don't think anyone is really doing anything out of line on either side of the table.

  2. Deion IS the media, though. Plus, it's not like Lynch doesn't talk to anyone. He has a great relationship with Mike Silver, a reporter who has covered him since his days at Cal. I think it's more of a case that Lynch only wants to do it if it feels right. He doesn't want to be pushed into a corner to do it, and while he can refuse to do it, then the league fines him. Their last fine was $50,000 for not speaking to the media during the season. That's craziness.

    Plus, I watched him yesterday and it was obvious that he didn't want to be there, and not in the sense of "I don't wanna, I don't wanna," but merely by his jittery body language being boxed in with people prodding and poking at him with questions. Hell, it made me uncomfortable just watching it.

    So we know he will cooperate with the media, because there are examples of that (traditional and non-traditional media), but it has to be right, and in this particular setting, it has shown that these are not conditions in which he would prefer to do it. When there are attitudes like the one the PFWA exhibits, why would he want to talk to anyone under their umbrella? They're better off hoping one of us gets an interview with him and ride our coattails instead.

    1. And that's fine … but it is in the purview of the NFL to fine players for not living up to this aspect of the job as well. Like I said, I don't think anyone is at fault here. I respect Marshawn's decision and the fact he's uncomfortable doing this in a setting like this. It's the same as, say, Pop, who begrudgingly does those sideline interviews but doesn't say anything. He does them because it's part of the job, but he doesn't really provide anything. Cool. That's what Marshawn did. Cool.

      Like I said, I think the PFWA's stance was a bit much, but I also don't understand people getting mad at media members trying to get something out of Marshawn. Maybe it's not the best setting for Lynch, but for many reporters it may be the best chance for them to get to ask him questions in person. It's their duty to try, which they did, and it's Marshawn's right to not give them anything, which is what happened.

      Everyone likes to pick on the media because it's easy, but until you have been a reporter and have all these deadlines and editors prodding you and you trying to get the best stories you can - I've been there but nowhere near an NFL level - I don't think people can understand how frustrating it is for media members either.

      It's the god damn Super Bowl. Everyone knows that a media blitz is part of it. Now it's over, and we can all watch him run through defenders again on Sunday.

    2. Speaking to the media is part of the job description in the NFL. It just is. Maybe most fans don't care about that - I really don't all that much - but it is part of his duties as a player in the NFL. Marshawn spent the whole season not living up that. If you spent a whole year not fulfilling one of your duties at work - even it was a secondary duty - wouldn't you be punished somehow? You'd probably be fined or suspended or scolded or demoted or not get a raise/promotion or get fired.

      So while $50,000 might be outlandish in some respects, it's also serving the purpose of punishing an employee for not living up to a certain aspect of his duties for an entire season. I don't see a problem with this. I really don't.

  3. All. Of. This. I worked as a high school sports reporter for a while and you eventually learn that some athletes, coaches or administrators you're just NOT gonna get info from and I'm sure pro athletes are no different. It's not as if Marshawn Lynch has been a total douchelord to the media, he just prefers to let his game do the talking, and like Teddy Roosevelt, when Beast Mode carries the ball, he carries it like a big stick.

  4. I totally agree. Not even from a symbiotic player/media relationship, but how can you as a person see someone so uncomfortable, because of what YOU are doing, and not be uncomfortable yourself? Then to hear the media's tone toward his non-cooperation like it's Lynch being a bad dog or something. Then they conveniently get a story out of the non-story of someone not talking, where the other 30 guys who are talking aren't really saying anything story-worthy. So either way Lynch is giving them what they need. I think the greater story would be "A bunch of adults saw someone in need and rather than badger him, they made him comfortable as hell for 30 minutes and let him chill." BE ABOVE THE JOB.

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