He is a three-time professional bowler with a Super Bowl ring and his own charity foundation. He has his own endorsement deal and clothing line, but remains quiet and reserved. And the media hates him for it.
Marshawn Lynch does not fit inside the box the media wants to place him in. For one, running backs are not supposed to get better with age, but Lynch has. In his eighth NFL season, he ran for more touchdowns than ever before.
For a while, it looked like Lynch’s career would never even last eight years.
In 2009 he was arrested, suspended and benched with the Buffalo Bills. Once again, Lynch proved an to be anomaly. In his first full season in Seattle, he rushed for a career high in yardage.
Lynch’s stereotype-shattering persona extends beyond the playing field. While his peers receive sponsorship deals from Gatorade and Nike, he signed an endorsement contract with Skittles. Lynch then had it written into his Skittles contract that money would be paid to his foundation for each touchdown he scored.
NFL superstars aren’t supposed to be endorsed by candy. They aren’t supposed to have criminal records in addition to their own charity. However, the media doesn’t dislike Lynch for the things he does; it’s the things he doesn’t do that infuriates them.
Lynch does not talk to the media. It started in 2013 with Lynch quietly and politely declining interviews and post-game appearances. The NFL took notice and hit him with fines. At the end of 2013, Lynch had acquired a $50,000 tab from refusing to speak to media personnel.
Lynch took it to the next level in 2014, earning $100,000 in fines for avoiding the media. And when he did talk, he would answer all questions the same. Sometimes he would respond to all questions with a simple, “Yeah.” At the Super Bowl media day, he only responded to questions with “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
Media personnel took offense and only pushed harder for real answers from him. Some labeled him “classless,” and others went as far as to call him a “thug.” It surpassed “deflate-gate” as the primary headline leading into the Super Bowl.
But what’s the big deal? If Lynch doesn’t want to talk, then don’t ask him questions. Maybe he is shy, maybe he is humble, or maybe he just wants to play football and go home. Whatever the reason for his silence, it doesn’t matter. The media is wrong for feeling entitled to answers.
It’s refreshing to see an athlete not craving the spotlight for once. Still, the media would rather paint him as the rule-breaker rather than the humble hero. His gold teeth and dreadlocks make him an easy target for the bad-boy image.
It’s unsettling to think a similar act of silence by a Manning or a Brady would be praised by the majority. They would be regarded as true professionals, solely focused on their craft, yet Lynch is seen as a thug.
Maybe it’s a good thing for the media to be stood up for once. It shows their value is dependent on the athletes, and not everyone is waiting to be graced by their spotlight.