SPORTS JANUARY 31, 2014
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch doesn’t like to talk to press. For his lack of availability throughout the season, the National Football League imposed a suspended $5,000 fine; when he said he did not want to participate in Tuesday’s (pointless, insipid) Media Day, the league threatened to enact that fine and levy an additional $50,000. So he came, albeit without a podium, took questions for a few minutes, and did a brief interview with NFL Network. On Wednesday, at another mandatory availability, Lynch lasted about as long before climbing over chairs and escaping his pursuers with the skillful aplomb we’ve come to know.
Some sports journalists whose self-importance is perhaps of inverse proportion to their actual importance will not stand for this. “Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch's conduct and refusal to answer any questions,” wrote the president of the Pro Football Writers of America. “We find the statement by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership,” he added. So at least he is an equal opportunity offendee.
It is hard to get worked up over the potential fines, since those are proscribed in the league’s and the players’ collective bargaining agreement. But the media is not a party to the CBA, and nor should it be. We are the Fifth Estate. This is frequently advantageous—it allows us unmatched independence. When we whine about access, we make ourselves complicit with our subjects, and thereby weaken our independence. It’s really not a good look generally.
And it’s really not a good look in the case of Lynch. Watch his NFL Network interview in full:
It’s all the more meaningful given that it is being spoken to “Primetime” Deion Sanders, perhaps the most outgoing, press-friendliest NFL player in history, and that by the end of the two minutes, Sanders is totally won over by him. Lynch intends no disrespect to Sanders or the rest of the media; to the fans; or to the sport. He is looking forward to the game. He just doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s ‘bout that action, boss. We could all take a lesson away from that.