What Marshawn Lynch should say on Media day

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.  

NFLPA TIP: Don't quote union-busters

In a recent NFL Players Association newsletter - in their “NFLPA Tips” - the union quoted Ben Franklin, a man who owned slaves for 40 years and profited from their hard work and labor. I wrote about their poor choice of qoutes in my article entitled “NFL Players Association: Consider the Source!”

Now, in their most recent newsletter - in their “NFLPA Tips” - they decide to use a quote from Andrew Carnegie: "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do." 

Andrew Carnegie became one of the wealthiest men in the world through the steel empire he created. By 1890 he was earning nearly $25 million annually, which is equivalent to $658 million annually in today’s dollars.

So, how did he create that wealth? It was simple; he did it off the backs of his workers who were making an average of $10 a week, or $500 annually.

Let's not pay any attention to what Andrew Carnegie said……let’s just watch what he did.

Carnegie opposed the unionization of the workers in his steel plants, believing that unions interfered with good company management. In 1892, the workers at his Homestead Pennsylvania steel mill went on strike for better wages.

Carnegie was determined to break the hold of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers Union, so he partnered with Henry Clay Frick, a ruthless coal mining businessman. Frick hired guards from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, who had a reputation as strike-busters, and the Homestead picket line erupted into violence. Three workers and seven Pinkerton agents died, and many more were left injured. The incident captured national attention, and the Pennsylvania governor sent in the state militia to maintain order. The Homestead workers remained locked out, however, and no other union attempted to organize at a Carnegie plant until the 1930s. Here’s a great PBS article about this incident and an excerpt from the article:

In mid-November, the union conceded. Three hundred locked-out men applied for work and were rehired. Many more were blacklisted. Carnegie cabled Frick. "First happy morning since July." With the union crushed, Carnegie slashed wages, imposed twelve-hour workdays, and eliminated 500 jobs. "Oh that Homestead blunder," Carnegie wrote a friend. "But it's fading as all events do & we are at work selling steel one pound for a half penny."

That strike may have faded from most people’s minds, but we can’t forget the past and when the NFLPA starts quoting a union-buster, they are, in effect, disrespecting all former players that went on strike to get better wages and pensions.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of paying attention to what former players said............here’s a look at what they did.

Canton's Fawcett Stadium where striking NFL players set up picket lines prior to Saturday's Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, July 29, 1974.

Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page, NFLPA president Bill Curry and Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini were among the 1974 striking players. The NFLPA slogan was - “No Freedom – No Football”

Despite the failure of the 1974 strike, Roy Jefferson (right), then Washington's player rep, believes the groundwork was laid for the massive contracts of today. He was right!

The 1987 Player Strike: Check out the sign “On Strike for Fair Player Contracts and Better Pensions for All Players 1920 Through 1990. We must keep pushing for that second item!

Even the fans were with the players. We can't forget how the NFL used scab players to break the strike.  

Quarterback Jay Schroeder stands in front of fellow Redskins teammates as they picket near the team's facility in Sept. 1987. No Redskins crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike!

The news article reads: Confronting Scabs is a vital function in holding the union's picket line. That's defensive tackle Kevin Brooks of the Cowboys taunting replacement players as they leave their Dallas training ground.

Giants players walk the picket line at the Meadowlands during the 1987 NFL players' strike.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, left, in striped shirt, and striking Dolphins and supporters walk past police at the Dolphins' training camp on Sept. 25, 1987.

A Fairfax County police officer holds back Washington Redskins players R.C. Thielemann, glasses, left, and Darryl Grant, right, as a busload of newly recruited players arrives Sept. 23, 1987, at the Redskins Park practice facility in Chantilly, Va.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the strike of 1982 was the longest “in-season” work stoppage in the history of the NFL. It lasted 57 days and forced the cancellation of 7 regular season games. The Players Association also conducted a 136-day lockout, during the NFL’s “off-season” that went from March 12 - July 25, 2011.

I hope the current players understand that these actions laid the foundation for better working conditions, better wages and better benefits for future players. Former players may not have won all the battles along the way, but each battle made the Union stronger and wiser and players eventually won the war for free agency and a larger piece of the revenues.

During the NFL player lockout of 2010 the NFLPA said "If it wasn't for players, namely John Gordy, players wouldn't have any benefits."  John Gordy, was a former Detroit Lions offensive lineman who helped form the Players Association and negotiated the very first collective bargaining agreement. John Gordy died in 2009, but he will always be remembered for conducting the very first strike against the NFL. On July 3, 1968, after talks with the owners stalled, the NFLPA voted to strike. The owners countered by declaring a lockout, but on July 14, the owners relented and the brief strike was over.

The NFLPA should be quoting guys like John Gordy…………not Andrew Carnegie.

In the final analysis, it really is all about what you do………not what you say.

NFL Players Association Tip: Consider the Source!

The above quote was included in the NFLPA’s January 9, 2015 newsletter to former players.

Ben Franklin was definitely at war with his vices. Here’s an excerpt from an article entitled: Ben Franklin's mixed legacy on race, both slave owner and abolitionist

"When it came to the most shameful chapter in America's history, Franklin's words did not match his actions. He spoke of liberty and was a key contributor to the Declaration of Independence ("All men are created equal"), yet he owned slaves for more than 40 years. He sought to prove to Britain that his nation was the land of freedom, yet accepted - and even profited from - chattel slavery as a matter of course.”

I’m not sure if former players want to take tips from Ben Franklin – no matter how good they sound.

All I can say is the NFLPA should choose their quotes more wisely, especially when you think about the early years of the NFL and the exclusion and oppression of black players.

Many white players - and white society in general – took part in this discrimination and even though I’m not remotely equating the NFL with slavery, we can’t forget that there was a time when blacks were not allowed to play pro football. 

Even though there were a small number of black players in the 1920’s and 30’s, the integration of pro football did not truly begin until 1946 when the Los Angeles Rams signed running back Kenny Washington and receiver Woody Strode, and the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference signed offensive tackle Bill Willis and running back Marion Motley. In 1949, 3 of the 10 N.F.L. teams had black players. By 1955, the Redskins were the lone holdout in the 12-team league. They didn't have any black players until 1962.

One of the turning points in race relations in pro football came in 1965 when black players decided to boycott the 1965 AFL All-Star game in New Orleans after many of them were refused service by cab drivers, hotels and businesses. Here's an excerpt from a story posted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame website:

As the black athletes made it clear that they were heading home, league officials and the game organizers had a decision to make. Would the game go on without the nearly two dozen players who walked out? That question was soon answered when, in a show of support and sympathy for their cause, white players such as Hall of Fame Tackle Ron Mix of the San Diego Chargers decided a statement was needed. “I made a decision then that if the game were to go on despite the absence of the black players, I would not play,” reflected Mix. “I felt I would be wrong in not playing but that it was important for at least one white player to join them, to say we’re with you.” Mix was not the only white player to join the boycott. The next day, on Monday, Jan. 11, AFL commissioner Joe Foss announced that the game would be moved to Houston and played at Jeppesen Stadium. 

For the Civil Rights movement, the episode was historic: black players united to use their stature and organizational value to effectively change the course of a major sporting event. My fellow Buffalo Bills Alumni, Butch Byrd, Cookie Gilchrist, Ernie Warlick and Jack Kemp were instrumental in the Boycott that demonstrated to the nation that the struggle was ongoing and would not be cured by simply passing federal laws. 

February is Black History month, so let's continue to learn from the mistakes that were made in the past and do everything we can in the present - to build a better future for all members of the human race.  

We can’t forget the past........... but we do have the power to forgive.  

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” - Martin Luther King jr.

Now that’s a good tip.........from a good source!    

Life Now for Kevin Turner, Steve Smith, Herbert Orvis and Jim LeClair

Please take a few minutes to check out this riveting video that was posted on the Kevin Turner Foundation Facebook Page.

It is difficult to watch because Kevin is in the advanced stages of ALS. Nonetheless, his mind is still sharp and the disease hasn't robbed him of his sense of humor.

At the very end of the video he talks about the NFL Concussion Settlement and says “What matters now – and I know my most important commodity is time – is it just gives a player and their family another level of security. This Settlement is very important not only to me, but to many retired players and especially those who don’t even know they’re going to need it. Unfortunately, it will happen. There will be more. I hope that we can come to an agreement and start helping those who need help.”

Please leave a comment on his Facebook page and let him know you are thinking about him.

                                                       “There but for the Grace of God, go I” 

My brother, my friend and my number one fan has died

As I have done for the past 8 years, I recently sent a list of all the former pro football players that have died during the year. I send my emails to over 6,000 former players. This year the list was viewed by more players than any other article I have ever written and posted. Many of you sent me comments thanking me for taking the time to compile and disseminate this information. In some cases, former players had no idea that one of their teammates had passed.

When I look at the names of the players that are no longer with us, I think of the families and friends that have suffered the loss of a loved one. The passing of a friend or a family member is very difficult to handle. When our alumni brothers take their final journey into the great hereafter, it reminds us of our own mortality and our relatively brief time here on earth.

When anyone that is close to us dies, it can make us look at what is really important in this life – our relationships with family and friends. Hopefully, it also renews our faith in the kindness and decency that is inherent in most people.

On January 2, 2015 my youngest brother Barton Andrew Nixon passed away after battling cancer. Our family received a huge outpouring of sympathy and love that reminded me of just how important it is to have the support of friends during times like these.

Bart was not just my brother and my friend – he was also my number one fan.

When I played for the Buffalo Bills, he was always hoping that I would play well and that we would win. The walls of his room were adorned with my football photos and other memorabilia. The word “fan” doesn’t really convey the kind of relationship we had. Most fans don’t really know who we are - they can only see the player, not the true person. My brother knew the “real” me and looked past my flaws, imperfections and weaknesses - and loved me for who I was. I tried to do the same thing with him.

The last time I was with my brother, he had just finished his chemo and radiation treatments. We went out on the town and had a good meal, a few beers and a few shots of Tequila.  Afterwards we walked directly across the street and into a little trading card / sports memorabilia store. My brother asked the owner if he had any Jeff Nixon football cards and sure enough, the owner offered him the last one in his collection. When my brother proudly told the owner who I was, he said he could have the card for free.

A few months after I saw him, Bart received the news that his cancer had spread to other areas of his body. We were all devastated. Eventually, we came to the realization that he would not survive this terrible disease. Even though he knew this was a death sentence, he never once said “why me?”

I am so thankful that my mother and father were at his bedside when he passed. This has been a very tough time for both of them. If the spirit moves you - say a prayer of strength and comfort for our family. My brother Dave told me that as soon as he finished reading the 23rd Psalm - Bart took his last breath and gave up his spirit. They did everything in their power to help him overcome his illness, but in the end, it was God's will that he should come home and dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

I will always be his brother...........his friend.......... and his number one fan. 

My brother Bart with the autographed Drew Bledsoe jersey I gave him the last time we were together.