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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

January 8, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Marshawn Lynch: Why the Seahawks’ running back should talk to the media

By Quin Nelson

Quin Nelson grew up a sports fan in Mill Creek and is a graduate of Archbishop Murphy High School. He is a sophomore at Whitman College in Walla Walla, where he is the sports editor of The Pioneer, the student newspaper.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch takes the field to warm up before the final regular-season game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.  Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times staff

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch takes the field to warm up before the final regular-season game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.
Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times staff

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was fined $50,000 for not talking to the media this season until last past week, and clear sides have been taken on the issue. The NFL announced Wednesday that the fine won’t have to be paid if Lynch cooperates with the media, but that any further violations would result in him having to pay the $50,000, plus another $50,000.

Plenty of fans side with Lynch, saying that he should have the right to speak when he wants. Some have even taken up a collection to help pay his fine (Lynch has said he’ll match what they raise and donate it to charity). Lynch is paid to play rather than talk, fans point out.

Others line up on the opposing side and believe the issue is just as simple: He signed a contract that stipulates he talk to the media, so he is obligated to do just that.

If you want to have these opinions beaten into your brain, check Twitter and various online message boards. However, a perspective missing from the discussion is not whether or not Lynch should talk to the media, but how everyone would benefit from getting to see and hear more Marshawn in the media.

Lynch highlight reels are awesome, but his interviews are equally great (his interview last week notwithstanding). A quick YouTube search will yield past interviews in which Lynch waxes poetic on his love for kickball, his favorite Bay Area rappers, and his now-famous moniker, Beast Mode. With his inimitable drawl and goofy sincerity, he’s practically as entertaining behind a microphone as on a football field.

Unfortunately, Lynch had gone quiet in Seattle. He has talked about having trust issues and often seems uncomfortable in front of the camera, so he may never really be at ease with the media on a daily basis. That’s too bad because when he talks, Lynch has shown he has an endearing personality worth getting to know.

The Seahawks have plenty of compelling characters already, but injecting Lynch into the mix would be a refreshing change. Russell Wilson is a wonderful human being and role model, but that doesn’t exactly make him a compelling speaker. Richard Sherman’s unique interviews can be good for a few sound bites.  And who doesn’t love hearing Red Bryant’s Texas drawl on just about any subject?

There is more than enough room for Lynch’s unique voice amidst Seahawks who fans have grown accustomed to hearing from.

Lynch can benefit from talking to the media, as well. He could have a stronger relationship with the media and fans, which could pay dividends later. Justified or not, an athlete’s legacy is often shaped by how the press and public portrays them, and that’s largely determined by how the athlete interacts with the media. Some athletes don’t care about their legacy, and Lynch may be one of them. That’s fine. But he could buy a lot of Skittles with that extra $50,000 in his pocket.

Should Lynch talk to the media? Probably. It is in his contract, and NFL players are required by the league to be available to the media “following every game, and regularly during the practice week as required under league rules and their contracts.”

The NFL policy also states: “Cooperation with the news media is essential to the continuing popularity and financial prosperity of our game and its players. This is an important part of your job, especially in these challenging times when everyone in the NFL must do more to promote our game.”

Agree or disagree, it’s not only in the game’s best, it would be a nice gesture to fans, who only get to hear from Lynch when he speaks to the media (whether or not he should be contractually obligated is a different issue entirely).

I, for one, think it’s a little ridiculous to see and hear him doing Beacon Plumbing commercials (“Quit freakin’, call Beacon”) after refusing to talk to the press all year.

If Marshawn Lynch weighs the consequences and doesn’t want to talk, that’s fine. But everyone would be better off if he did.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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