As we all know, Marshawn Lynch is known for being reluctant to talk to the media. Lynch was fined $100,000 in 2014 ($50,000 for failing to speak to the media and another $50,000 from a similar incident in 2013).
A few days after the Seahawks beat Arizona, he answered nearly every question from reporters with "Yeah". After the second Seahawk-Cardinals game, he answered nearly every question from reporters with some version of "Thanks for asking" or "I appreciate you asking”. At least those short, insincere comments kept him from getting fined. But after Sunday’s game against Green Bay he went tight lipped again. The NFL is considering fining Lynch significantly more than the $50,000 it has fined him in each of the past two seasons.
During a rare in depth interview conducted by Deion Sanders and former teammate Michael Robinson, it was discovered that Marshawn’s reluctance to talk to reporters came from his upbringing and the fact the he didn’t like being "forced to do something".
The fact is no one forced Mr. Lynch to sign contracts that require him and all NFL players to talk to the media. Those NFL contracts have grossed him $57 million in his eight year career.
For that kind of money, I would talk to the press like I was being water-boarded by the CIA!
So how does Marshawn feel about the NFL after his most recent fine for grabbing his crotch? He tweeted that he’s embarrassed to work for the NFL. Really?
When he retires from the NFL I want to see what kind of job he gets that will pay him an average of 6 million a year. If he's a smart guy and he invests his money wisely, he won't have to work another day in his life, but something in my gut tells me he will be one of the former players we read about in articles like this one posted at the Bleacher Report: Why NFL Players Really Go Bankrupt.
Before I talk about what I think Marshawn Lynch should say on Media Day, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
The Buffalo Bills made Lynch their first round pick of the 2007 draft. He was a decent running back, but his off-field problems were a constant source of embarrassment for the team and the NFL. On June 2008, Lynch pled guilty to a hit and run charge and had his driver's license revoked. Lynch was driving his 2008 Porsche Cayenne at 3:30 am through Buffalo's bar district, when he struck a woman in the street and failed to stop. When questioned, Lynch said "I didn't know my car had hit anyone or anything."
During the 2009 offseason, Lynch was arrested in Culver City, California, for having a gun in his backpack in the trunk of a car he was occupying. Following his guilty plea on misdemeanor weapons charges, the NFL announced that Lynch would be suspended for the Bills' first three games for violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy.
On July 14, 2012 Lynch was arrested, by the California Highway Patrol for DUI after he was observed driving erratically. He was reported to have registered a 0.10 on the Breathalyzer at Alameda County Sheriff Department's North County Jail in Oakland. He was incarcerated hours before hosting a youth football camp.
So, with all that being said, what should Marshawn Lynch say when media day arrives at the Super Bowl?
First, I think Marshawn should have a prepared statement that reads something like this:
“I want to apologize to the Media for my behavior in not answering your questions, both before and after games. I know that you are just trying to do your job and that all you are asking for is an opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers, listeners and viewers. By not talking to you, I have given some of you the impression that I don’t like you and that your questions are stupid, irrelevant and beneath me and don’t even deserve the dignity of a response. That all changes today because I’m not going to let my past problems dictate my future behavior. As members of the media you have the power to write articles that can show me in a negative light or a positive light. I want the latter. In addition to commenting on the game, I want everyone to know that what I do on the football field is just one aspect of my life. I am more than one dimensional. My “Beast mode” is ok on the field, but I’m going to learn how to turn it off when the game ends.
At this point, I will take your questions:
Media: What would you like to say to the Commissioner and the NFL owners who have fined you for not talking to the media?
ML: “I want to apologize for my behavior these past few years. I signed contracts that obligate me to talk to the press, but I have not honored those contracts. A man’s word is more important than his signature on a piece of paper and going forward I will do my best to honor my word. I have come to realize that the NFL is just trying to market pro football and “protect the shield” from bad press. Their image (and the image of their employees) is important to effectively selling the game to the public. The more money the NFL brings in, the better chance NFL players - both past, present and future - will have of getting more money and better benefits. It’s a win, win, win situation and all of us should do the best we can to promote the game. Obviously, it helps if players conduct themselves with integrity both on and off the field. That is what I promise to do to the best of my ability.
Media: What would you like to say to the fans?
ML: “I want to thank the fans for literally paying my salary and benefits. Without them there is no pro football. They pay for the tickets; the parking and the exorbitant prices at the concession stands. They sit at home and watch commercials during the game and buy products that advertisers show on the networks. In turn those networks pay the League a ton of money to air the games on TV. Fans deserve to know what I’m thinking before and after games. At some point in the future, I will no longer be playing football and I hope they remember me for what I said and did off the field and not just the things I did on the football field. I have a tremendous opportunity to shape the minds of young people that are just beginning to watch pro football and I want to be a role model for them.”
Media: What would you like to say to your teammates in front of all these cameras?
ML: “First of all, I don't want to be a distraction to my teammates by not talking to the media. Secondly, I don't want to bring attention to myself, therefore I won't be doing any crotch grabbing or wearing Skittle Shoes or Green Shoes or trying to wear Gold Cleats. That is not our team uniform and I want to be known as a team player. The most important thing I want to say is that I don’t do anything by myself. Sure, I get into "beast mode” and run hard and escape tackles and score touchdowns and get a lot of the credit for the wins, but it's my offensive line that makes holes for me and my receivers who do a good job blocking downfield. The next time I do a post-game interview, I’m going to publicly thank them for helping me get into the endzone or for helping me making a big run. I watch guys like our own QB Russell Wilson giving credit to everyone but himself in his post-game interviews and I’m amazed at how humble he is and how unselfish he is. He’s a good role model and a prime example of what it means to be a true professional and a good teammate. Going forward, I want to emulate players like him.”
Media: What would you like to say to former NFL players that are concerned about your behavior on and off the field and resent the way you are thumbing your nose at NFL owners that have paid you 57 million dollars?
ML: "First, and foremost, I want to thank them for paving the way for the current players. I wouldn’t be making the salary and benefits I do today if it weren’t for the players that went on strike, formed a union and in some cases got black-balled from the league for their union activities. Those guys have also made the game a lot safer for today’s players because they weren’t afraid to talk to the media and members of the US Congress and tell them all about the problems they were experiencing. I will do everything in my power to uphold their legacy, because some day in the not too distant future I will be one of them."
That is what I would like like Marshawn Lynch to say on Media Day......but this is reality - not Fantasy Football.
Unfortunately, there are some former and current players who believe that what he is doing is just fine. They don’t think he should say a word if he doesn’t want to. There are a lot of Seattle fans that feel the same way. They don’t care what he does before, during or after the game just as long as he helps the team win games. Many of the fans actually tried to help him pay for the fines he incurred for not talking to the media. Winning is all they care about and to them, the means justify the ends. Once Marshawn leaves the team and retires from pro football, I can guarantee you that none of those fans will help him pay for a traffic fine.
I wish Marshawn had some mentors in his life that could give him some good advice, though I’m not sure he would even listen to them.
Being a great football player is something to be proud of, but isn't a person's character more important?
Short of suspending or banning a player from the NFL for drugs, spousal abuse, assaults etc. - there’s no huge consequence for "behaviorial problems" that take place on the field. When a player is making a sh##load of money, a fine becomes a mere drop in the bucket. Penalizing the team will get better results. Other than increasing fines and penalties, there’s not much anyone can do except stand on the side of the road and watch this train wreck as its taking place.
Back when I played, our Buffalo Bills Trainer, Eddie “Abe” Abramowski had a poster on the wall next to his taping station that said: “Fame is a Vapor; Riches Take Wings; The Only Thing That Endures is Character”
All players, including Marshawn Lynch, would do well to remember that old quote.