Much has been made over Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch refusing to give proper answers to the media over the past few years. On Super Bowl media day last Tuesday, Lynch sat at his podium in front of an estimated 200 reporters with a maddening method.
Reporter: *typical question about football*
Lynch: "I'm here so I won't get fined."
This went on for about five minutes before Lynch walked off. He said it 29 times. Members of the media ripped apart the 28-year-old, citing a level of immaturity and incompetence that degraded the livelihood of those very sports reporters. Some of the reaction on social media was, well, expected...
Marshawn Lynch's tired sphinx act masks the hard truth that without the media NFL players would be playing in a parking lot for $8 an hour
— Brian Murphy (@murphPPress) January 28, 2015
Marshawn Lynch hella annoying & immature. Just answer the questions bruh. Damn. Grow tf up. Do ya job.
— 6ixNøx (@OGWavyD) January 28, 2015
It's not entertaining, it's not funny but it is completely disrespectful and tiresome. #MarshawnLynch is a punk and an immature spoiled brat
— Shawn Gibson (@nobleloonlodge) January 27, 2015
Journey said it best, it goes on and on and on and on.....
Here's the thing, folks: Marshawn Lynch doesn't owe you shit.
As I've begun to report on sports and interview athletes, amateur or professional, you notice early on that the answers become repetitive and vanilla. "Yeah, we worked hard." "Tough loss, give the other team credit." "I couldn't have done it without my teammates."
We glorify the most boring responses, claiming our athletes to be humble and hard-working. "He does things the right way." It's the same tired act that causes many of those reporters to get fed up with stock answers, and clamour for their subjects to open up.
"There are only so many times I can say 'I owe it to my offensive linemen,' or, 'The credit should go to my teammates,' before it becomes run down."
That quote came from Lynch earlier in the season when asked about his hostility with the media. And he makes a good case. At what point do we stop hounding athletes for the most basic of Hunter-boots-Pumpkin-Spice-Instagram-Hashtag answers and just let them be them?
Was Lynch acting like an asshole throughout that press conference? Of course he was. And he knew he was. Despite some accusations of appearing "uneducated", Lynch is quite intelligent. He saw the spectacle that Super Bowl media day is, and put on a show that was as ludicrous as the event itself.
|"Hold ma diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick" -Marshawn Lynch|
Credit: Getty Images
Even after it became apparent that Lynch wasn't going to answer anything other than "I'm here so I won't get fined", reporters kept asking. When they kept asking, the story got bigger. Within minutes, the #1 trending topic world wide was "I'm here so I won't get fined". Did it ever occur to any of the media surrounding his podium to just walk away?
Don't you dare fire back with "I got a job to do". Throwing rocks into an extinct volcano in hopes of it erupting isn't productive: it's stupid and a waste of time. And what we saw Tuesday was exactly that.
For a league that's dealt with domestic abuse, child abuse, gun culture, and corruption throughout the executive ranks, grilling someone for not playing ball with the media and forcing them to sit in front of hundreds of pudgy white guys and answer the same mundane questions has to be the dumbest thing I can think of.
The funniest thing about the whole thing is that the general pubic is siding with Lynch on this one. Fans couldn't care less if he doesn't give a thought-provoking answer to a question. It doesn't matter if Lynch gave the same response for five minutes as opposed to cliche-answers for 45 minutes. His past fines from the NFL paint him as a sympathetic character, a victim of the brute-force that the league flexes when it wants what it wants.
The unfortunate thing about Lynch-gate (doesn't role off the tongue like SpyGate or DeflateGate, sigh) is how painfully obvious the lack of self-awareness from reporters is. Lynch is openly trolling everyone, and they aren't getting the joke. I would hope that your average member of the media could see that Lynch doesn't want to answer your questions; there's no code to crack, he's not painting a portrait of complexity, he's just being Marshawn. That's it. For reporters to take it so seriously and question Lynch's integrity is as ridiculous as those infamous five minutes.
On Sunday, Lynch and the Seahawks will face the New England Patriots in hopes of capturing their second straight Super Bowl title. He'll take handoffs from teammate Russell Wilson and try to run between the tackles, bounce off defenders and all that jazz. The circus off the field with cameras and recorders won't have an effect on any of that.
It never has.
Hunter Crowther has covered sports for several different websites and currently studies journalism in college. You can follow him on twitter @HunterCrowther or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org