Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Marshawn Lynch. The full text runs below:
Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch is a great running back, a man with strong legs and tremendous heart. He refuses to fall even with a gang of defenders pulling him down. He is a player every team wants and he is the best player on the Seahawks’ offense.
He also is a puzzling man who makes things tough on himself for no good reason. If I covered him, I’m not sure I’d like him. Not that my feelings matter.
Before Sunday’s NFC championship game against Green Bay, Lynch contemplated wearing gold cleats. They may have been beautiful gold cleats. It’s just that gold cleats violate the NFL’s uniform policy code and the league did not allow him to wear them.
The league’s uniform code is silly and intrusive. Of course, it is. I offer no defense of the code. I do notice every player on the field, except Lynch, didn’t object to the code. I wonder why Lynch did. What did he get out of objecting?
I notice he blew off the media after the game. The league already has fined him $100,000 this season for not talking to the media — for not honoring the section of his contract which requires him to cooperate with the media. The league likely will fine him for what he did — or didn’t do — Sunday. And if/when he stiffs the media during Super Bowl Week, the league will fine him again.
It’s his business if he hates the media and doesn’t want to cooperate. Because he’s a millionaire he can afford the fines. He has what they call “screw you money,” although I’ve slightly altered the phrase. Everyone wants that kind of money in life. Lynch really has it. Good for him.
Fans don’t care if an athlete talks to the grubby, annoying press. I get that. I ask this: What does Lynch get out of his contrary behavior, of wanting to wear gold cleats, of not talking to the media and, oh yeah, the Michael Jackson crotch move thing?
Sunday, he faced the Packers bench after scoring a touchdown and grabbed his crotch. He did it a few weeks earlier, too, and got fined. He’ll probably get fined again. Maybe it’s not a dance move. Maybe it’s a case of jock itch, in which case Tinactin, available at leading pharmacies, should do the job.
Let’s stick with his media aversion. I covered Lynch at Cal and remember after one game he came to the interview room with his kid brother. I think it was his kid brother. Lynch wore a T-shirt and baggy denim shorts and he had a lovely smile. He cooperated with the media. He more than cooperated. He hung around and talked. He was smart and engaging and likeable.
What happened after Cal, I have no idea. Athletes often change in the transition from college to the pros. The point is he knows how to talk and he’s good at it. When he wants to be.
He won’t want to talk at the Super Bowl. Depend on it. Or if he talks, he’ll give one-word answers. He’s done that before, answers all questions “Yes,” or on alternate days, “No.” It’s kind of clever. A big part of the news coverage leading up to the Super Bowl will involve Lynch. Did he talk or didn’t he talk? His press conference or non-press conference will rival the Sermon on the Mount for media coverage.
He sure uses a lot of energy not talking. It can’t be easy for him. Also, when a key player on a team doesn’t talk, he forces the other players to talk about him. “Russell, what did Marshawn say after the league banned his gold shoes? Russell, what is Marshawn really like? Russell, does Marshawn grab his crotch a lot?”
This has to annoy his teammates — they have to do his work for him. And they end up talking about Lynch instead of themselves. These men have egos, too, perhaps not as big as his.
If Lynch cooperated like every other Seahawks player, few reporters, columnists, TV and radio people would offer commentary wondering who is the real Marshawn. They would ask him football questions and he would answer and that would be that. He just would be one of the Seahawks guys.
Now, he’s a national mystery. A national topic. The national topic in sports for the next two weeks. By not cooperating with the media, he will make the story in Arizona all about him. It will be Marshawn Lynch Super Bowl Week.
By refusing to talk, he will call attention to himself as if he shouted words through a bullhorn. Is it calculated? You bet it is. Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young never did that. But then they didn’t need to.
Nobody needs attention like Marshawn Lynch.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.