Super Bowl Media Day has come and gone.
The NFL credentialed 6200-plus people to be inside the University of Phoenix Stadium; some were actors, some were celebrities, some were hangers-on, many were working media. As usual, it was a circus. A crush of more than 300 to try to listen to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. As little as 4-to talk to Seahawks punter John Ryan.
And then there was Marshawn Lynch, the beast, the bull, the belligerent Seattle running back. In typical fashion, because he was a star, he drew 200-plus working media members, and he was condescending and insulting to every last one of them.
Whereas teammate Richard Sherman, spoke, lectured, and answered questions for nearly the entire one hour mandated by the NFL, Lynch spent 4:59 in front of the throng, got up and then left.
Topics as dynasties, history, turning points of the season, deflate-gate, coaching styles, lifestyles and even erotica novels, were all part of media day. Everyone had something to say except the power running back from Seattle.
Lynch, who has been fined $136,000-in his career, for suspensions, media violations and obscene gestures showed up. And in typical fashion, acted like he has acted in the past year, disrespectful of the league, its rules, and the people trying to do their job.
In his nearly 5-minutes at the podium, he was asked 29-different questions, ranging from his career, to NFL rules, to playing with Russell Wilson, to Coach Pete Carroll.
He responded thusly, “I am here so I don’t get fined.” That was the sum total of his contributions on Media Day.
Few know him well, except his teammates and coaches. Few from outside his circle know much about him either. And that’s too bad.
He has put together amazing back to back seasons in Seattle, after the Seahawks gave him a chance after Buffalo gave up on him, as a wasted draft pick. Coach Pete Carroll calls him unique. He knows about his game prep, and how he is viewed in his locker-room, and he surely knows his contributions to what the Seahawks have become.
No one, since the days of Earl Campbell, runs with the thunder of Marshawn Lynch. The bruising running back, who is big, fast, violent, has an extra gear, and is next to impossible to bring down, has put up enormous stats in a vaunted Seattle playbook.
In four years as a starter with Seattle, he has 1,189-carries for 5,357-yards rushing and 48-touchdowns. Add to that 682-yards rushing and 7-more TDs in postseason. It’s an amazing accomplishment of endurance and toughness, over 6,000-yards rushing and 55-TDs in four seasons, of taking hits, dealing out punishment and dragging gang tacklers with him as the Hawks marked man.
But the careers of NFL players in that position are not long-term. You get hurt, or you wake up one morning an old man, and no longer the same players. His numbers are a powerful statement about a powerful man.
But he is a man with a chip on his shoulder, with no explanation as to why he acts the way he does. Tough upbringing in a fatherless home in Oakland. A struggle to be a student athlete at Cal. The demise of the promise so much expected in Buffalo. The rules and regulations with the law in the streets, and the law that is the NFL.
Maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe he doesn’t care to have us know. But know this.
The short reputation you develop as a player will carry with you into life after your playing career is over. Then the goodwill of your name carries you to something else, if you had a good name.
I think of Marshawn Lynch now and I think of great running backs in the past, and how it ended for them. The enduring stats of Chuck Muncie were washed away by all his problems with substance abuse. The greatness of Duane Thomas in Dallas, was eroded away by how he acted. Mention either of those names, and the positives as a player were overshadowed by the shortcomings of the person.
When the money is gone, or the cheering stops, or the health fails, what do you want to be remembered for? Quality, class, dignity of someone like LaDainian Tomlinson, Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders or Walter Payton, or the sadness that is attached to those names who tarnished their image?
Marshawn Lynch wants to be the Beast of a player, and bore of a person. That’s okay, except, that when the career is over, people will remember him for how he acted, not just what he did. If he wants to act like an “ass” to everyone, then he will be remembered as an “ass” by everyone.