Should he speak or should he not speak? That should be the question (but it isn't)
There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to speak with the media.
One side of the debate is media members livid at the audacity of an athlete who makes a mockery of those covering him. It’s a cheap, pathetic stunt that reveals his character in a way that simply speaking to the media couldn’t even provide. It’s an unacceptable slap in the face.
We should boycott Skittles!
Marshawn Lynch's tired sphinx act masks the hard truth that without the media NFL players would be playing in a parking lot for $8 an hour— Brian Murphy (@murphPPress) January 28, 2015
The other side of the debate believes its a violation of personal freedom to simply ask Marshawn Lynch for more than one sentence of commentary. Who are these elitists who think they have the right to force one guy to serve up clichÃ©s on a platter so they can get clicks?
MARSHAWN LYNCH IS MAKING A MOCKERY OF THE MEDIA! Now if you'll excuse me, Rex Ryan is on SportsCenter talking about Pizza Hut stuffed crust.— Dave Dameshek (@Dameshek) January 29, 2015
I don’t side with either because both sides appear to be fraught with immaturity. Even Lynch himself would admit that even he is being immature.
The reality of the situation, like most truths, lies somewhere in the middle.
If Lynch doesn’t like being in front of the camera, speaking to millions of people, who really cares if he doesn’t want to give lectures after running into a brick wall for 60 minutes. For 16 weeks each year, Lynch works one of the most physically demanding jobs this country has to offer. If he wants to skip interviews and pay the fine, who are we to judge?
But this is one of the most influential men in the industry at the world’s biggest sporting event and answering a few questions isn't a big deal either. This is the Super Bowl and everyone, including both Lynch and the media, should be held to a higher standard.
Although I am in complete disagreement with Murphy, these athletes are paid extremely well and part of their job description is to be available to the fans. The media is merely a conduit to season ticket holders and kids everywhere who worship Lynch and their beloved Seahawks. It’s the fans — and their much smaller paychecks — who drive interest and create massive television contracts and sponsorship deals that pay salaries for NFL players.
“When you sign up to play in the NFL, part of your responsibility as a player is to communicate with the media so that your fans can hear you,” former NFL star Rodney Harrison told The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday. “That’s part of your job. I think what he’s doing is selfish. It’s immature. For years, black people didn’t have a voice in this world. And you finally have an opportunity to have a voice and you make a mockery of it like it’s a joke?"
Harrison raises an even deeper and much more serious point. One that is interesting and important for obvious reasons. But it’s getting lost in the immaturity.
Lynch’s decision not to speak has created a fascinating debate that should be intelligently discussed and analyzed. But neither side is exactly acting their age. Both the media and Lynch have taken it to a new level of silly in Arizona this week. If an extremely well-paid NFL athlete doesn’t want to speak to the media, let him pay the heavy fines.
Just as long as he understands that he’s avoided a platform afforded to very few individuals that would allow him to make his point directly to the fans who revere him the most.