Dear NFL: Leave Marshawn Alone

by Greg Williams | Posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America



During the two weeks leading to the Super Bowl here in Phoenix the focus of all things statewide was the Super Bowl. Media, celebrities and athletes overran the capital city and a visitors had no shortage of NFL-related spectacles to enjoy no matter wherever in the valley they were.

One of the biggest events of the week happened Tuesday as media day took place at the US Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns. The floor of the arena was reminiscent of an NCAA National Championship where the student sections storm the court and swallows the team amidst the celebration. The floor was a mass of credential wearing humanity pushing and shoving to get close enough to get their recorders in a player’s face.

At media day, the throngs gather around the podiums of the biggest named stars hoping to get good sound bytes. Similar to Mardi Gras, some dress in ridiculous costume in order to catch the attention of a star and make themselves known, however ignominiously.

Why then, is anyone gathered around the podium of Marshawn Lynch?

We get the fact that he is the arguably, the biggest name on the Seahawks marquee. Lynch and Russell Wilson are 1 and 1A, in either order. Marshawn was fourth in the league in rushing, only 57 yards shy of making it to #2. There’s no question he is the most punishing runner in the league. A great quote from Lynch could move a lot of newspapers or at least get a lot of clicks on your website. There’s just one problem.

Marshawn Lynch is not interested in talking to the media. At all. Not even a little bit.

Remember last season when Deion Sanders found Lynch lurking behind a backdrop in the corner of the venue. Even the charismatic, widely respected Primetime wasn’t able to get much response from the enigmatic Lynch. He did get the catchphrase of the season though.

…I’m just ’bout that action, Boss.

It’s been no secret for many season now that sticking a microphone in Lynch’s face is pointless. He rarely talks to the beat writers for his own team, what makes the league think he’s going to talk to the rest of the media circus?

Lynch has accumulated over $100,000 in fines this season for refusing to speak to the press. He has added more to the fine toteboard for taunting as a result of crotch grabbing as he scored touchdowns. It’s clear to the rest of us, Lynch says all he wants on the field, not off of it.

NFL players are mandated to speak to the media in their contracts. They signed it knowing that fact. Marshawn seems completely comfortable taking the fines and being left alone. The fines are likely tax-deductible anyway.

At Media Day Tuesday, Lynch sat at his podium and repeated the same phrase 29 times.

I’m just here so I don’t get fined…

Five minutes later he was gone. Even though they knew he wouldn’t say anything different, his podium was surrounded by media. On the second day of their mandated three days of media sessions, Lynch carried the theme over today too with a new line…

You know why I’m here….

This doesn’t translate to a t-shirt very well, does it? No merchandising opportunities here. Still, he was the object of everyone’s attention when all he wanted was to be left alone. Five minutes later he was gone.

On day three he did speak more than one sentence. He used his five minutes to rant on why the assembled throng continues to come to him when they know he has nothing to say to them. Great point.

These Lynch/media confrontations are painful to watch. It’s akin to the school nerd trying to get a date with the homecoming queen. He walks up to try to utter something resembling a greeting and in the midst of his stammering she stares at him like he is growing three heads. It’s as uncomfortable as a separated couple that still lives together. It’s like trying to hold an intelligent conversation with a Raiders fan. Time to face it media…

He’s just not that into you.

Why go someplace where you’re not wanted? In the interest of solving the problem, here are a few solutions for the media and, league.

1. Leave Marshawn alone. Give him time to miss you. Perhaps if you play hard to get he’ll actually come to you.

2. Restructure his contract. Marshawn is a free agent now and while the Seahawks are (allegedly) looking to extend him for another couple years, now is the time to solve this problem. Just as easily as the ‘must speak to media’ obligation is included in his contract, it can also be omitted in negotiations. Lynch will be happy to stay and the media knows he is a virtual ‘no fly zone’ in the locker room.

3. Fine him at the beginning of the year. If the rule can’t be taken out of the contract, fine Lynch the equivalent of whatever it will cost in fines to absolve him of speaking to the media for the entirety of the season. The NFL will donate half to a charity of their choice, Lynch chooses the charity of his choice for the other half. This will result in good PR in the form of helping the disadvantaged and will show the league is sympathetic to its players to the casual fan even though we diehard fans knows its the farthest thing from the truth.

This way, everyone can move on and do more productive things with their time. The media can move on to interviewing people who will actually talk. Lynch can hide out in the locker room scarfing Skittles. The league can focus on the much bigger matters at hand than an athlete who doesn’t want a close up for a change instead of bullying him to say nothing for five minutes.


Greg Williams is the San Diego Chargers analyst for (@prosportsextra/@pse_nfl). You can follow Greg on Twitter @LordOfTheGregs

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