What Marshawn Lynch’s Silence Says About the NFL
From 2007 to 2012, Marshawn Lynch played unencumbered football.
Despite being drafted 12th overall by the Bills, “Beast Mode” was barely a blip outside of Buffalo, due to the fact that he played for a franchise that flirted with mediocrity more often than a playoff berth. Not even an in-season trade to Seattle in 2010 was enough to raise his profile.
But then the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, and everything changed. Everything except Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch had never been a quote machine – unless you asked him about Applebee’s– and his quiet demeanor apparently goes all the way back to his Pop Warner days. Though as his profile continued to rise, and Seattle played in more and more meaningful games, avoiding the spotlight became impossible, no matter how much Lynch detested it. Apparently unable to view his reticence as anything but open contempt, the media slowly cooked up a story about a non-story: Lynch’s reluctance to speak to anyone outside of his teammates about football. And once he made it to the Super Bowl stage, his silence spoke louder than any stock quote about “teammates” or “hard work.”
It didn’t help that, in the rare instances he did speak – like when Deion Sanders caught him away from the podium during Super Bowl Media Day – Lynch didn’t exactly apologize for shunning the media. Instead, he summed up his silence succinctly, delivering a quote that was more mission statement than mea culpa:
“I’m just ’bout that action, boss.”
Of course, in the ultimate irony, Lynch’s quote about not wanting to talk to the media became all the media wanted to talk about. And it capped a season in which the NFL fined him $50,000 for not speaking to the media, then withheld the fine on the assumption he’d realized the error of his ways. As you can probably guess, Lynch didn’t, and after avoiding reporters following games against the Chiefs and Giants this season, the league doubled down, hitting him with a $100,000 fine for his silence. In response, he answered every reporter’s question with the same one-word response – “Yeah” – the following week. Those mono-sponses were then remixed in a video posted on the Seahawks’ website. And the non-story continued.
When Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports attempted to ask Lynch questions at the Super Bowl, he got the same player that everyone besides Sanders got: silent, stoic and steadfast. Lynch sat there for six minutes, and Doyel wrote a story about the “humiliating” incident, but his piece arguably did better than one larded with quotes about “teamwork.”
“Watching Lynch watch the media watch him was one of the most through-the-looking glass moments I’ve ever been a part of,” Doyel says. “Lynch not talking was a lot of fun to write, if for no other reason than I’ve never written that story before.”
But why are we so interested in discussing Lynch if he isn’t? Perhaps because he’s an anomaly in today’s NFL: an athlete who doesn’t care about promotion or his portfolio – just playing the game.
“I think it resonates because there’s a certain ‘I don’t give a fuck, I’m just gonna be me’ authenticity to him,” NFL.com columnist Mike Silver says.
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