The week following the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 blowout of the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl has been filled with analysis of exactly how and why that outcome took place. However, there really isn’t all that much to analyze. The Seahawks swarming defense dominated the game from start to finish and the outcome of the game was all but decided following Percy Harvin’s 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.
Instead, I’ll address what was a smaller, but still interesting storyline leading up to the game regarding Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ popular “Beast Mode” back made headlines in the media leading up to the game for his severe aversion to talking to the press.
Lynch didn’t do interviews throughout the season and was almost hit with a $50,000 fine by the league for not meeting his required obligations. He was spared the fine under the condition that he meet his requirements for talking to the media for the rest of the postseason.
Lynch’s press conferences were marked with short answers and, occasionally, blatantly telling reporters that he didn’t want to be there and was only attending so he didn’t get fined. He took his fair share of criticism, notably from the Pro Football Writers Association, which claimed some members were ‘appalled’ by Lynch’s reluctance to talk.
The issue brought up an interesting discussion about whether the NFL’s media requirements are fair to the players. There are arguments to be made both ways. Lynch is a multi-million dollar pro athlete. It would seem like a small thing to ask that he at least try to cordially meet with reporters, especially because he’s one of the most important players on one of the best teams in football.
On the other hand, I believe that if Lynch doesn’t want to talk to the media then that should be his prerogative. Whether it’s social anxiety or a previous wrong done to him by reporters (or both), imposing mandatory media requirements on Lynch, or any athlete for that matter, is just unnecessary. It just seems like a measure of basic decency to not actively REQUIRE anyone, even a superstar football player, to be in a situation that clearly makes them uncomfortable.
In their statement about the issue, the PFWA said the following.
"The Pro Football Writers of America, the official voice of pro football writers fighting and promoting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public, is extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Tuesday. Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions. We find the statement that by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership. However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation."
This statement, to me, is absolutely rife with pretentious elitism. My personal dislike for athlete sports clichés in interviews is documented. But in all seriousness, exactly what “meaningful access” are they even talking about?
Essentially what the PFWA is saying is that they would be totally fine with Marshawn Lynch standing in front of them like a drone and talking about the importance of “going out there and giving 110%.” But because Lynch is outwardly resisting being part of a process that he finds pointless and uncomfortable, he’s suddenly undermining the sacred world of sports reporting.
As members of the media, we should encourage athletes to be individuals. Lynch’s introversion is interesting and humanizing. And besides, he had some of the best quotes of all the interviews anyway. His “I’m just about that action, boss,” quote in his interview with Deion Sanders was great! Do the man a favor and just let Beast Mode be.