I love Marshawn Lynch. He is the curator of some of our greatest memories as sports fans and without a doubt one of the greatest athletes this city has ever seen. At this point in his decorated career, Lynch needs no colorful introduction. He is simply one of the most accomplished figures in Seattle sports history.
By contrast, I hate this incessant Marshawn Lynch versus “the media” saga that will not die. Of late, this story has spiraled to the point of fans crafting a petition to keep the NFL and the media from “bullying” Lynch by interviewing him after games. This is so incredibly stupid.
First of all, there are no winners here. The closest thing to a winner in all of this is Lynch, because he will be universally loved by all whether he says anything or nothing at all. But even Lynch has lost to some degree by incurring a $100,000 fine from the commissioner’s office for failing to honor his contract. Yes, it’s written in the documents every NFL player signs when he joins the league. In order to fulfill the obligations of being a member of the National Football League, players must agree to speak with the media. Lynch is no exception.
Second, the media can’t win, of course. According to fans, the media are a group of bullies. Seriously? Have you seen Lynch? Have you seen the people asking him questions? If the Lilliputians surrounding Lynch in the postgame scrum are bullies, then I look forward to one day watching A/V club members shove jocks into lockers in high schools all across this great nation of ours.
Third, we have the fans. Most rational onlookers couldn’t give two shits about this story. Lynch won’t talk? Who cares? The dude runs like a man possessed, so really, who gives a damn? But then you have that special subset of serial WalMart shoppers who can’t let this go because FOOTBALL IS LIFE. They are singlehandedly keeping this story relevant by acting batshit crazy and concocting petitions to “protect” a guy nicknamed Beast Mode – because a guy with a nickname like that clearly needs your protection. Most fans are intelligent, sane bystanders who love sports for what they are: an enjoyable distraction from everyday life. But then there is that loud, vocal minority of undereducated, double-wide dwelling FANS that can’t separate their affinity for sports from their own mortality. They’ll live for sports. They’ll die for sports. They’ll fucking kill for sports if they have to.
Like I said, all of this is so very stupid. It doesn’t need to happen. Any of it. I’m not saying Lynch should kowtow to “The Man” and start issuing beautiful, insightful interviews. That’s not who he is, so why change? But Lynch should realize that by entertaining the masses with redundant answers to every question asked of him, he’ll remain under a spotlight each time he does or doesn’t speak. If Lynch were responding to interviews in the same staid fashion as most of his teammates, would anyone care? No. There’s a reason athletes are coached in the fine art of ejaculating worn clichés when asked literally any question on the face of the earth: to protect their reputations and keep them out of an otherwise unnecessary spotlight.
Where the media is concerned, editors will continue forcing reporters upon Lynch because Lynch has turned every interview into a must-read, headline-grabbing event. I guarantee you that the men and women asking the questions get as much joy out of talking to Lynch as Lynch does in talking to the media. Neither party wants to be present in that arena, and yet neither party has a choice. The NFL, via the contract Lynch inked, will force Lynch to answer questions. Publications, via editors looking to capitalize on what has become a story that readers are clearly interested in, will force their minions to pepper Lynch with interrogation. It’s a no-win situation for anyone involved.
And finally, we have the batshit crazy subset of FANS. Slow your roll, FANS. Marshawn Lynch does not need your help. He doesn’t have anxiety. He isn’t afraid of answering questions. He just doesn’t want to answer questions. It’s understandable. His job title is “NFL running back.” It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that part of Lynch’s job description involves answering questions from inquiring minds. But the NFL has molded such a job description for all of its on-field talent, Lynch included. And thus the NFL can enforce that job description however they deem fit.
Let’s quickly compare this to a situation some of you may be able to relate to, since we, like Lynch, all have aspects of our work we don’t like. Your job title, for example, happens to be “Hamburger Flipper.” Your job description, however, dictates you might have to clean the bathroom on occasion. These two things seemingly don’t go together, but you signed up for this. And now, in order to fulfill your job description, however shitty it may be, you’ll need to take a break from flipping quarter-pounders to clean that goddamn bathroom. Talking to the media is the veritable bathroom which NFL players must clean. It may absolutely suck, but it’s part of the job, written out clear as day when the job itself is taken.
At the end of the day, batshit crazy FANS, try to answer this question: Will you be affected? As in, if Lynch keeps giving abrupt interview responses, will you be affected? If Lynch changes course and starts relating lengthy soliloquies, will you be affected? If Lynch doesn’t speak at all and gets fined by his employer, will you be affected? Will you be affected by any of this at all? No. Because no matter how this saga plays out, the man in question and the football team he plays for have been and will continue to be just fine. Hence, you are in no way affected.
In fact, the only effect you have on this story is the fact that you – yes, YOU – are driving it. If FANS don’t care, then editors don’t care. If editors don’t care, they won’t force reporters to care. And if reporters aren’t forced to care by their bosses, then Marshawn Lynch is left alone. Holy shit. We just solved the problem.
So stop it, batshit crazy FANS. You’re causing this mess. And it won’t go away until we all agree to bury this story six feet underground. It needs to die. Today.