Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beast Moan

As a Saints fan who works in the media, I find Marshawn Lynch hard to take at times.

No Saints fan ever wants to revisit Lynch plowing through the entire Saints defense to help his 7-9 Seahawks advance in the playoffs, or for that matter revisit any encounter the Saints have had with him in the years since. Additionally, as someone who has interviewed his fair share of stubborn and/or hostile people, I have a low tolerance for the kind of spiteful game the Skittles Man is playing with the press.

Lynch may or may not suffer from anxiety — and if he does, I sympathize — but his trolling of the media is not a byproduct of that. (Wearing your helmet during an interview and giving a good-faith try, a la Ricky Williams, is closer to what that looks like.) Anyway, Lynch has granted interviews before — it’s only since Roger Goodell fined him for missing a recent media availability session that Lynch has pitched this tantrum. No, what he’s doing is the purely calculated (if not particularly clever) move of someone who wants to be the story. Everyone who’s hailing him as a folk hero for allegedly wanting to be left alone should keep that in mind.

Journalists aren’t sociopathic scoop sharks and Lynch isn’t some poor, bombarded sap. He’s a superstar football player about to play in his second consecutive Super Bowl. He plays in a league that trains all of its personnel in relating to the media as public figures. The big game has events where these players have to be available to talk for five minutes. They can choose to spout the usual platitudes, or they can be refreshingly different. Or, they can not say the usual platitudes but still be uninteresting, like Lynch. His standoffishness is remarkable only in how petulant it is.

Lynch could have been clever with it, at least. Maybe by saying funny nonsequiturs every time. Or being conversational, but having a good time with it. There are ways to object to that which you dislike that drive the point home better than by making it hard for people (who aren’t the cause of the scorn) to do their jobs — jobs they are paid far, far less to do. (Not to mention that the tedium in this exchange is most likely mutual.)

I’m no fan of Goodell, but I can’t fault the NFL for its access policies. If it was a 24/7 thing, I might agree with the critics. But a five-minute window on the eve of the Super Bowl? Perfectly reasonable. Lynch’s response? Not so much.

If he’s truly opting for a way out of the off-field spotlight, Lynch could always ask Marques Colston or any of the NFL’s many other quiet guys how they manage to elude the alleged glare of “gotcha.” Hint: If someone is reserved or otherwise doesn’t make for good quote material, they’ll eventually not be hounded. Someone who aggressively throws up a brick wall only makes muckraking professionals want to climb it. But again, I think Lynch knows that. He’s not trying to be quiet; he’s out to deafen with his defiance.

Too bad that defiance is so misplaced.

What a Super Bowl this will be.

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