Marshawn Lynch had to know that snubbing reporters would make him a bigger story than if he just took some time, put on a happy face and got ran through the media car wash like all of the greats do during Super Bowl week.
He just didn’t care.
It wasn’t an act of selfishness and a failure to inspire the kids as Preacher Ray framed it on ESPN. We’ve studied the social war tactics of the soldier-assassin that is Lynch for some years now. We know he does it his way. He’s a human wrecking ball and a firecracker on the field. He’s known to talk his share of junk at times, but he’s undoubtedly all business. You won’t catch him slipping because you said something about his wife and he lost his cool.
He’s really been through the wars. You don’t have to fabricate a story of a rugged childhood filled with toast-flashing and over-the-top ghetto passion to get Lynch some street cred. It would actually have made more sense if it was Lynch whose character the media attacked as “thuggish” rather than Stanford graduate Richard Sherman who just happened to provide one of the most provocative sound bites in NFL history.
Whereas Sherman spent the last week cleaning up his misrepresented blackness, Lynch totally embraced his by straight-thugging media heads, Seahawks and NFL officials by refusing to speak during player-mandated Super Bowl Media Day at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on Tuesday. Everybody knows how Beast Mode gets down. The fact that he didn’t want to exchange pleasantries with the media isn’t anything new. Lynch was fined $50,000 by the league for being inaccessible to media during the entire 2013 season (It was later retracted when he agreed to speak).
Doug Farrar of nfl.si.com said this about Lynch in an article written on January 5 th:
"For local media, Lynch is even more elusive...Frequent inquiries to the Seahawks’ public relations staff as to Lynch’s availability are met with the same answer over and over: “Not today.” Lynch refused to speak with the media on the record throughout the 2013 season.
And according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the cumulative effect of all those “not todays” will cost Lynch a $50,000 fine by the league."
No surprise here that Lynch went against the grain. He’s so good at it, especially when he has defenders nipping at his heels. No rusher in the NFL has more 100-yard rushing games over the past three seasons (22) than Lynch.
Now, Lynch is facing another potential $50,000 fine for spending just six minutes and 20 seconds with reporters. After a brief exchange, Lynch played the sidelines with a hat, hoody and shades, chilling on the wall and acting as if he had nothing to do with the festivities at hand. He was ornery, dismissive, sarcastic and uncooperative. Lynch’s justification for stunting on reporters was that “he’s a man of action” and he’s ready to get it popping on the football field. He did at least sick around to conduct an interview with Deion Sanders, which may have saved his bacon,
"Players are required to participate and he participated. We will continue to monitor the situation, "NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said tuesday.
Lynch is not exactly breaking ground with his anti-media stance. There is a history of fines handed out by the NFL during Super Bowl week dating back to the 1991 game at Tampa Stadium.
Buffalo coach Marv Levy was hit for $5,000 for missing the '91 media day. Bills running back Thurman Thomas, like Levy a future Hall of Famer, was docked $5,000 for failing to participate in a mandatory interview session, though not on media day, in '92.
Three players have been fined $20,000 for missing media availabilities: Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in 2012, Patriots left tackle Matt Light and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork for refusing to speak to the media following that Super Bowl.
The Oakland Raiders were fined $50,000 as a team for not making all coaches and players available for a required media session in 2003.
Media members probably portray Lynch’s actions as selfish and plain old insubordinate.The NFL is sure to categorize the situation as an uncooperative "small fry" messing up big bucks. Some fans are probably cringing at his timing. The tone was definitely stand-offish and for a guy who just hit the jackpot after signing a deal with Skittles candy – there was nothing sweet about the message Lynch was sending.
For one, Lynch wanted to let the media know that he’s not a clown in a circus. You’re not going to twist his words to make him look crazy (like they did Sherm) because he’s a straight shooter. In today's hypersensitive era, people are always expected to toe the company line with comments because as Sherman and Rich Incognito will tell you, every little thing is a big deal in the NFL's billionaire boy's club. Lynch is one of the undeniable leaders of the team and probably – with all due respect to Russell Wilson – its heart and soul.
He was probably unhappy about the social media circus directed at Sherman and wanted to let national media know that he’d rather just chill in silent protest than have to bus a cap at some unsuspecting reporter who wrote some click-whoring article about him . Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gets it. Carroll’s reputation as a player’s coach and great communicator is enhanced by his comfortable relationship with crazy-ass Lynch. There the HC was on Tuesday downplaying Lynch’s early exit as typical "Beast Mode."
"He doesn't feel comfortable in settings like this," Carroll said at the media day. "And he doesn't like to do things he's told to do. Fortunately that hasn't been a factor for our football team. But in this setting, he becomes something of a recluse and he doesn't want to be part of it. We try to respect him as much as we can."
Respect is important to Lynch and he was setting a tone for his Seahawks squad. His actions may have been premeditated and exaggerated but he put everybody on notice that the Hawks are about business this Super Bowl week. It’s the best message a team can send. Regardless of how unpopular it makes Lynch with the media. Having too much fun during Super Bowl week has negatively affected franchises in the past. Remember Atlanta’s Eugene Robinson in Super Bowl XXXIII?
During Lynch’s brief Q & A, he seemed particularly vexed when a reporter asked him if he’s had a chance to enjoy himself this week (or have any fun). Questions like that are definitely not going to get Lynch to open up. Maybe the reporter should have asked some hardcore football questions because that’s all this man is about. He’s the anti-Peyton Manning. I doubt he’ll even smile during his new candy adds. You’ll probably have to find the warmness in the bright assorted colors of the Skittles.
Everybody is different and some people love being guinea pigs and playing a game of Russian Roulette with their words for an audience of thirsty reporters. Others just don’t feel the need to play political ping pong with the journalists who cover their sport. Lynch prefers to let his crushing blows, clutch rumbles and unrelenting drive do the talking. Maybe he shouldn’t have showed up at all if he was going to show out, but media heads have to understand that Lynch doesn’t play in Hollywood. He plays in the trenches of Seattle. The only movie he’s interested in creating is a reel of Super Bowl highlights. You'll get no apologies from him for that.