Marshawn Lynch needs to take a lesson from the Green Bay Packers


Though the 2014 season has come to a dramatic close, for both the Seattle Seahawks and more so for the Green Bay Packers – the hype will still live on for at least a few more weeks.

Maybe it is this media frenzy phenomenon that allows us to feel deeply connected to the Green Bay Packers.

The New England Patriots have already won the Lombardi Trophy, gone to Disney World and will be paraded down the streets of Boston in public heraldry … while the Seattle Seahawks flew sullenly back to Washington, cleaned out their lockers and worried that they may never be able to truly “turn the page.”

Both teams will be analyzed and over-analyzed, the game tape itself will be worn to pieces, down to the very last dynamic play with 26 ticks left on the game clock.

No one is really thinking about the events that lead up to the big game anymore; the actions matter much more than the words ever did.

There are just a few words that still matter to me, though: “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”

I started writing this piece during Super Bowl media week, but got caught up in all the stats, predictions and matchups that took my focus temporarily away.

I vowed to come back to it, though … and here I am.

It doesn’t seem too important, in hindsight; but those eight words really reverberated through my brain in the days leading up to Super Bowl 49, mainly because of all the input they were receiving on social media platforms, articles, blogs and national networks.

Marshawn Lynch has never been known as a media buff – he doesn’t enjoy a microphone in his face, a reporter on his heels or a crowd around his locker.

He is better known for flawlessly executing a get-away scheme after games, heading straight for the team bus or blowing off interviews which are designed to keep fans connected to their favorite players and teams.

As a fan of the game of football, the NFL and its practices – his behavior is offensive to me.

I was [unpleasantly] surprised to see so much positive feedback about his diligence in NOT addressing the media. Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, NFL blogs – herald Lynch as, quite literally, the ‘unspoken’ hero, tip-toeing on and around the line of what is acceptable in the NFL’s media policy.

Such media stipulations are put in place for a very good reason: the fans.

New England Patriots strong safety Malcolm Butler (21) makes a interceptions during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports photograph

You, me … The 12th Man … all anxiously await with bated breath, whatever it is that these stars feel the need to say.

Lynch is a character on the field and his antics (see: threatening to wear gold cleats, not conforming to NFL apparel standards and inappropriate touchdown celebrations) are largely why he has such an established fan base.

People love a character, whether their words and actions be positive or negative; which is also why loud-mouthed cornerback Richard Sherman gets so much publicity.

The NFL’s attempt to connect its players with their fans is working. We are invited into locker rooms and press conferences and interviews, all with the understanding that it is truly the fan that drives the business side of the National Football League; and without that business side, there would be no need for players, coaches or teams.

And you didn’t think the NFL had a boss … well, now you know – YOU’RE the boss.

Without us, jerseys wouldn’t be bought, tickets wouldn’t be sold, stadiums wouldn’t be filled.

In turn, paychecks wouldn’t be written.

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It’s a vicious cycle, but it all really starts at the tippy top, with the delight and stimulation of the professional football fan. That’s what the NFL knows and it’s what causes the uppity-ups to rain down fines and punishments on those who choose not to follow those rules.

Essentially, Marshawn Lynch is saying much more than, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” He’s saying, “hey … I don’t care what fans want, they aren’t getting a peep out of me.”

He has repeatedly alluded to his “lack of privacy,” which angers me most of all. There isn’t a player on the planet that was in the dark about what he was signing up for.

When you step out on that field, sign that contract, don that uniform, you do so with the knowledge that you are a public figure … and as such, your words and the little tidbits about your life that are shared, are gold to your fans.

We don’t need your deep, dark secrets – we just need to know that you are interested in connecting with us. We don’t need your childhood story – we just want to know how you felt about that play call, what it’s like to get to the Super Bowl, what are your offseason plans?

It’s simple, really. To those who applaud his nonchalance and stick-it-to-the-man attitude … you’re the man he’s sticking it to, not the commissioner or the league.

It’s us, the middle class folk who work a 40-hour week and feed off of NFL breaking news on our lunch breaks, eagerly awaiting Sunday.

Is that really fair?

I say, no.

If he’s fulfilling his obligation to his fans by spending five minutes in front of a camera saying, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined …” or rambling off some nonsensical mumbo-jumbo, he deserves that fine either way.

I don’t think we are asking too much by expecting a few insights here and there; and if he truly believes so, maybe he’d prefer a sport less driven by the wallets of those he ignores.

Maybe it is this media frenzy phenomenon that allows us to feel deeply connected to the Green Bay Packers.

Each of the players offer up pre- and post-game interviews, Aaron Rodgers gives great insight into the game in his press conferences and his weekly radio show.

The Packers Clubhouse features a player each week and frequently profiles a player for the fans.

Even after a botched onside kick in the NFC Championship, Brandon Bostick was available to the media, showing true emotion and resilience to a heartbroken fan base.

He didn’t head for the bus, push away cameras or shift blame. It showed real class and respect for fans everywhere.

I feel bad for The 12th Man, in this case.

You are an honorary member of a team in which you know very little of one of its most important figures … and he doesn’t care to change it.

Next: Q&A with NFL prospect Ben Heeney