BY Art Thiel 05:11PM 01/29/2014

Thiel: Lynch again breaks from media chores

For the second day in a row, Marshawn Lynch was the story of the Super Bowl run-up because he did a a chair-walk to escape the media. Common sense suggests a solution.

Marshawn Lynch, left, and teammate Michael Robinson face the media horde Wednesday at the team’s hotel in Jersey City, N.J. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Marshawn Lynch has thrilled the NFL with his breakaway runs. But the NFL won’t be thrilled with the figurative tackles he broke Wednesday. At another mandatory session with the media, this one at a poorly planned site in a cramped hallway of the team hotel, Lynch bolted after seven minutes, walking across empty chairs to find a way past the knot of journalists.

He was probably one stiff-arm away from drawing a fine.

Repeating his discomfort from a day earlier at the week’s official media day in nearby Newark, Lynch this time admitted the obvious.

“I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” he said. “I just don’t get it.”

Wednesday, he had the assistance of teammate and friend Michael Robinson. After Lynch gave a few nearly inaudible responses to ordinary questions, the media-savvy fullback jumped into the conversation in an attempt to be funny and take the pressure off Lynch.

“I’m gonna slide up in this thing right now, just to break the monotony a little bit,” Robinson said, grinning and moving over a chair. “You can direct your questions to me.”

Robinson was asked an obvious question about how Lynch felt about his media responsibilities.

“He hasn’t talked to you guys most of his life, I think he just said that. He just wants to play ball — boss,” Robinson said, deploying Lynch’s favorite nickname for anyone he doesn’t know.

Lynch seemed to enjoy Robinson’s help, but things gradually became more awkward. Finally Lynch couldn’t stand it. With several people talking at once and one shouting his name, Lynch, as he is wont to do on game days, found daylight in an original way.

His exit to the right cut off by teammate Robert Turbin — “Why you wanna block me in, brother?” Lynch asked when Turbin sat down — Lynch went to the B gap, going past Robinson and walking atop unoccupied chairs along the wall before getting around tables and finding the room to run — or walk — away. He wasn’t demonstrative, just annoyed.

The same shortened commitment Tuesday drew a rebuke Wednesday from the Pro Football Writers of America, especially after a league spokesman said no fine was forthcoming because Lynch did participate Tuesday and Wednesday, albeit short of the required 45 minutes.

A statement, from president issued by president D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said the PFWA “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.”

The statement will only reinforce Lynch’s belief that the media is trying to take something from him, in the form of fines. The NFL fined him $50,000 in the regular season for failing to cooperate with Seattle media, but held off when he began to talk, albeit grudgingly. If he fails again, the league said it would fine him $100,000.

Media cooperation is part of the standard player contract that is bargained collectively between the league and players union. The more frequent contacts with media in Super Bowl week are also mandatory for all participants.

Told that the league, not the media, issues fines, Lynch said, “It starts somewhere.” He said that if the media is the bridge to fans, and his fans don’t care if he talks, then what’s the fuss?

Lynch has a point. So does the NFL — by signing a contract, he and all other players agree to its terms. On the NBCSN show “Pro Football Talk at the Super Bowl,” former NFL coach Tony Dungy and former player Rodney Harrison said the league can’t make exceptions because many more players will exit, particularly after the clumsy affair Wednesday.

A number of Seahawks players were made to stand in groups of three or four around tall drink tables bearing their names while media members clattered and jostled about in a tight setting less orderly that a kindergarten fire drill.

In the big picture, it is a trifle. But there are no small things at the Super Bowl, given the media magnification. The Seahawks are not particularly troubled by the dust-up. As coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday (before Lynch’s chair-walk), “On this football team, and all teams, there’s people that are more available than other people. Because they’re comfortable with that . . .  “I wish people knew what a great team member Marshawn was.

“We don’t get any more interview time with him than you do.”

But on a slow news week with little history between coaches and players or with the Super Bowl, Lynch’s attempt to be left alone is a distraction.

Common sense would seem to dictate a traditional American solution: Buy your way out. Since a third repeat Thursday is the acme of absurdity, and since Lynch chose to violate the deal agreed upon by the union, he needs to accept the $100,000 fine for peace of mind.

He said Tuesday he prefers action to words, and that is action to end the words. Fans and teammates can pass the hat for someone making $7 million in 2013, or he can simply accept it as the cost of doing business as Beast Mode Inc.

And he retains his self-respect because he talked the chair-walk.


  • Jeff

    Unleash the curmudgeon… My guess is that if Lynch thought he could blow off everything for $100k, he’d do it, but now knows the league is on his back, and the fines pile up for each violation. There’s a lot of media navel gazing and self aggrandizing going on this week, but I believe the public sympathizes with a player who views speaking to the media as a form of torture, especially if they’re the type that do not like speaking in public. I can’t imagine the blowback to the media reaction if they were to be this aggressive if the team’s leading rusher was Derrick Coleman, and he were to have an aversion to speaking to reporters.

  • Beast of Reason



    Art – please don’t tell us you’re siding with John “I’ve-Never-Touched-A-Football” Clayton.

    MoneyLynch – we love you brother.

    #Nowhining #plentyofdudestotalkto

    • 1coolguy

      When a person can’t handle what dozens of others seem to accommodate just fine, one really has to wonder about him. Short of being an idiot, which I presume he’s not, his performance with the media nonetheless isn’t very bright.
      I hope after the Super Bowl the guy gets the full fine and perhaps learns a lesson. He’s become a media story here for the wrong reason.

      • Will

        This is a media story only because the media has made it so… otherwise, it’s a non-event, non-story.

        Besides, when was the last lime a jock said something meaningful: Maybe Lou Gehrig’s retirement speech in 1939.

  • Adam Solowiei

    Not a shock.. Hard to believe the game is a few days away. Go rep the 12th man in a national fan vote

  • Charles Arndt

    Seven minutes is more than enough time for media to obtain the same answers to the same boring questions posed over and over. He participated. It serves no purpose to impose an arbitrary mandatory length of time for a player to be subject to interrogation.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    With 208 yards rushing and MVP in the Superbowl where are you going next Marshawn?
    I’m going to Disneyland but I aint got nuthin’ to say about no Mickey Mouse , Boss!

  • Joe Sportspack

    Marshawn’s done a good job taking attention away from Richard Sherman. There are plenty of players who are happy to talk to the media, give the guy a break.

  • Tasman

    Marshawn has done a great job with the media in one-on-one situations. You Tube it and you’ll find examples of him engaged with the media. However, he is not comfortable with a large group of media clowns…and who can blame him. I don’t think the problem is Marshawn! Leave the man alone and let him do his job which (right now) means bringing home the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle! Go Hawks!

  • Gary S

    Art, I can’t disagree more with your assertion that Lynch should be fined. His not wanting to talk to the media goes way beyond his not feeling comfortable with the whole player/media relationship. The man is truly uncomfortable in a public setting. Have some compassion and understanding!

    • whoKarez

      Art was also the one who recommended we root for the 49ers last super bowl because he hated Ray Lewis so much. I quit coming to this site for an entire year because of it.

  • Gary S

    I sure would like to know who the Seattle media member is who originally complained to the NFL about Marshawn not making himself available throughout the year. I would go to great lengths to NOT read whatever he wrote in the future.

    • whoKarez

      John Clayton complained to the NFL. He said so at my northwest dot com.

      • Matt712

        Yeah, Clayton has been extremely vocal about it. I actually like The Professor, but his apparent sense of entitlement is disturbing. I keep hearing the argument that Lynch could set a precedent of other players doing the same thing. So what, John. Do you actually fear a wide-spread media boycott? …..You, not Lynch, may be starting one.

        • Will

          Clayton has done what sports media guys usually do … Circle their own wagons and then make themselves out to be really important and integral to the game.

          Since John and rest of the talking heads control what comes out of the media … they always get the last dig, the last word.

  • Tired of the media

    D Orlando Ledbetter finds Lynch’s conduct to be appalling and the NFL’s statement to be an affront to the PFWA. However he overlooks appalling behavior by members of the media in posing provocative and unconscionable questions to athletes and the affront that they may cause to the athletes. Just look at the ESPN E60 interview where Lynch was asked to respond to people who would characterize him as a ‘thug’. Football fans don’t care about reporters and their hackneyed drivel; but they do care about players like Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, who make the world a better place rather than a worse one.

    • oldfan

      At one point Richard Sherman was asked what he would to do to stop young girls from becoming strippers (WTF does that have to do with Sherman or football?)
      Another “reporter” asked Russell Wilson and several others leading questions about their faith (I’m assuming he hoped to use their quotes out of context and create a non-football firestorm).
      Pete Carroll smilingly (and I hope intentionally) subtly mocked the whole thing by wondering why no one had asked him about Justin Beiber.
      Time for the NFL to pull its head out from under center and realize no one care about this pointless and ridiculous event except the media.

  • Bayview Herb

    I think it is time to recognize that these guys are paid to play football at a high level. They are not trained to be public speakers. The league needs to get over it and change the rules. Either that, or the players that object to interviews should just mumble stuff that nobody can understand. The interviewers will walk off in disgust and the player will have fulfilled his contract.

  • oldfan

    This has gone beyond the absurd, time to leave the man alone.

    Clearly Marshawn is someone who is physically and mentally uncomfortable unable to do public speaking, not just being petulant. Some people are that way, your mind freezes up when trying to think of what to say under pressure, so you hesitate, the pause grows awkward, and the pressure builds ’til you’ll do anything to get away. Having a casual chat with someone is one thing, knowing your every word is being recorded and judged by many others is another. And nobody understands that you just can’t make it happen.

    I know, I’ve been the same way all my life. For some people public speaking is literally torture.

    Leave him alone.

  • jafabian

    I imagine he’s okay with a one-on-one interivew occasionally, with a reporter he knows. But this everyday routine with a hoard of press that he doesn’t know is overwhelming to him. At this point fining him is not a solution. In fact it probably only makes it worse. The league should consider giving him a special dispensation for Super Bowl week.

  • Matt712

    So what was Marshawn supposed to do about that clause in his contract, not sign? Any of those PFWA members who are appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct should take a good look in the mirror. Collectively bargained or not, this is essentially bullying. Lynch doesn’t want to pay a fine because it would be like giving the bully his lunch money.

    The fact that this has become a story is an affront to good journalism. When good journalists have trouble getting answers, they work harder and more cleverly. They don’t throw up their hands and cry to the authorities. That’s just lazy.

    • oldfan

      I agree with everything you’ve said.
      This is a clear case of intolerance and bullying by a bunch ego inflated parasites.
      If you saw Greg Doyle of tripe yesterday, he claimed Marshawn was disrespecting all the great players that came before because he wouldn’t talk to him, Doyle (whos talents apparently include mind-reading) saw sinister intent behind every expression on Marshawn’s face, and claimed that Marshawn blew off Deion Sanders. That interview is linked on this site, watch it and tell me that was a blow off (personally, I thought it was the only worthwhile thing in the whole clown show).
      I ask you, why would anyone talk to these self-important jerks?

  • ll9956

    It’s interesting that the NFL is willing to fine Marshawn $100K for not talking to the press, but fined a New Orleans player $21K for committing an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, which could result in career-ending injuries.

    If the union wants to advocate for the players’ interests, in the future they will refuse to enter into any contract with the NFL that compels players to engage with the media. What is the NFL going to do? Cancel the season? Good luck with that. Talking to the media should be purely voluntary. There are more than enough players who are quite willing to chit-chat with the media.

  • oldfan

    Inability to do public speaking is a phobia and it appear Marshawn Lynch has it. It’s no different than fear of flying, heights, small places, escalators, or spiders. It may not be rational but it’s real. It’s not about want to, it’s not about shyness, it’s about your a trigger in your mind that won’t let you do it. The more pressure, the harder it is to do.

    Trying to humiliate the man won’t get you anything except the scorn of a more compassionate public.

    The media has 105 other players to harrass and most of them are happy to talk, not letting one go speaks to their intolerance, sense of entitlement, and bullying tactics.

    To those who say, “Just suck it up and do it” – When you put on pads, put a move on Aldon Smith, run through Novarro Bowman, and drag Patrick Willis five yards for a crucial first down, I’ll give some thought to what you say.

    ‘Til then… LEAVE THE MAN ALONE!

  • 1coolguy

    For a guy that spent 3 years @ Cal Berkeley you’d think even through osmosis he’d have at least a few traces of common sense.
    The amount of endorsement money he will now NOT have is anyone’s guess, yet I’m sure it amounts to many millions.
    After his ridiculous “performance” on footballs biggest media exposure stage he has sealed his fate: No one will touch him now.
    Dumb and dumber………………….

    • Marshawn for Mayor of Oakland

      Maybe he doesn’t need the money. Maybe he feels that doing something that makes him uncomfortable just for money is akin to prostitution? He is a football star, not a reality show ‘star’; he does his job on the field, not on the red carpet. He is a lot more entertaining than the Kardashians and does far more good for society (Fam 1st Foundation). And he just scored an endorsement with Mars Inc. (Skittles). Probably not the only score he is going to get this week.

    • Ignorant and Ignoranter

      He went to Cal, you probably didn’t.
      He is a millionaire, you probably aren’t.
      He is playing in the Super Bowl, you almost certainly never will.
      He isn’t dumb, or dumber, but you are clearly ignorant.

  • RadioGuy

    Leave the man alone. He’s a football player, not a White House spokesman.
    When I was a news director, that meant doing interviews and I was never all that comfortable sticking a mic under someone’s nose because (to me) it felt invasive. When it was an elected official I was a little less circumspect because they’re responsible to the people they represent and some, like Gary Locke and Phil Talmadge, were good interviews…others, like Maria Cantwell and Dino Rossi, weren’t.

    Athletes are different because they’re responsible for nothing more than playing a game as well as they can, especially those earning a paycheck at the professional level. WE make them more important because WE bestow importance on the particular game they play.

  • Just a fan, boss

    Art, you mad bro? You mad with ‘your’ sports stars who aren’t letting you earn your living? I know I was. So I switched to Richard Sherman High Speed Interviews. For just asking inane questions, I got all the ‘hack fodder’ I needed to pay my mortgage.