BY MARC SINGER
Earlier this year, during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day, Marshawn Lynch had to break his Super Bowl silence to avoid big fines from the NFL front office.
Respected national reporters had grabbed any open mike they could find to cry foul and make their demand: The Beast must speak!
Why? “That’s what the fans want!” these reporters would claim on sports-talk radio shows and TV segments as they interviewed each other, inserting themselves into the story, and in process, perpetuating each others’ agenda. These members of the media seemed to have an ego-driven tone deafness to the protests of the very fans they counted as their target audience.
Even a local NFL reporting icon, who elevated to rock-star status with an ESPN commercial in which he exposes a ponytail, and shouts from a bed in his mom’s basement, “Hey, Ma! I’m done with my segment!” was alienating his once-loyal listeners. He defiantly insisted that Marshawn needed to talk. The more he campaigned against the media-shy Lynch, the more his audience became irritated, feeling that this type of distraction could only derail a Seahawks team en route to a dream season’s ultimate conclusion.
Why couldn’t the media understand that the fans just didn’t care? In fact, the fans were fed up!
Then, just as all the media hype about him was reaching a fever pitch, a calm, cool, hooded and shaded Marshawn Lynch appeared from nowhere at the NFL’s farcical media day, and to everyone’s surprise, he spoke. With one artfully constructed sentence that the world’s most prominent advertising and PR firms would gladly take credit for the Beast put the entire self-important national sports media in its place:
“I’m all about that action, boss.”
It was like a sonic boom reverberating off the cliffs of the sports media’s grand canyon, and to Seahawks fans and most NFL fans in general, it was pure eloquence. It was the best thing anyone said in a day of fluff and bluster, and his words went on to set the Twitter world all a twitter. The media was finally free to actually report on the upcoming game.
Fast forward to today, nearly a year later. We find the Seahawks once again charging to the NFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs. And to our dismay, we also find a misguided portion of the national media again focused on Lynch’s disinterest in speaking to them.
Insulting their audience’s intelligence, certain national reporters tweet each other in agreement about how disrespectful Marshawn behaves before their mikes, with his defiant yeahs and thanks-for-askings. Again, it is fodder for talk radio, and frankly embarrassing for those that refuse to get the message. Marshawn doesn’t want to talk to them, and the fans don’t want to hear from them. All the fans care about is how he plays, that he has the respect of his teammates, strikes fear in his opponents, and some (not all) think it’s important that he gives back to the community. (Check. Check. Check. And for those who care to see the good in people, Emphatic Check). Any controversy about Marshawn’s approach to his mandated media availability is manufactured by those more concerned about manipulative “clicks” than meaningful “checks.”
Some national media folks seem to have learned their lesson from last year’s Super Bowl shaming courtesy of the succinct, yet arguably, eloquent Lynch. But some continue to forget that they don’t actually have a place in the stories they are supposed to be telling. Fans don’t care how reporters feel when they can’t manipulate their subjects into falling in line with their agenda. It’s not news.
The only news story here is one that’s been told before: Marshawn doesn’t like the media sticking microphones in his face. He has his reasons and he’s not sharing them with those who keep sticking microphones in his face. And no one cares how that effects those who continue to insist on sticking microphones in Marshawn’s face,
If the Seahawks path to Superbowl XLIX continues on it’s current trajectory, the national media will continue to attempt to get Lynch to open up to them in a manner that meets with their approval. And each time, he’ll continue to overpower their mikes with one-of-a-kind words, just as he continues to overpower defenders with one-of-kind moves.
A “Beast Quake” run may not register on the Richter Scale when it happens, but the ground will shift when real NFL fans stand up and cheer.
Marc Singer recently moved back to Seattle with his wife and 2 year old daughter, after living in San Diego for the last 10 years. During that time, he never lost touch with his passion for Seattle’s sports teams, especially the Seahawks, who he first saw play in the Kingdome during their inaugural season. He was 6 years old at the time.
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