Marshawn Lynch: The Case For an NFL Rule Change

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Updated: January 30, 2015
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“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” The now infamous line was uttered over and over by Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch on Tuesday’s Super Bowl media day, cuing laughter from casual fans and groans from reporters and journalists. On Wednesday, he followed up by answering, “you know why I’m here” to the swarms of journalists who somehow expected Lynch to be open and revealing to the press 24 hours after his comments (or lack of), sparked a media outcry.

Since the Tuesday morning press conference, everyone has been looking to share their two cents about Marshawn Lynch, Media Day, and the media’s presence in the NFL. Many people are in outrage over Lynch’s disrespect towards the media, while others rush to the aid of “Beast Mode.” While there are countless angles to take on this situation, the most logical and realistic holds the NFL and the NFLPA accountable for this controversy.

For a local beat writer, reporter, or any other media personality, I get the frustration. I’m not a beat writer, but if I were on assignment to go and get quotes from the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, and arguably their best player refused to cooperate, I’d be pissed. I would probably complain about his lack of respect for his job, I would say he should be fined, and I might even stoop so low as to say that the NFL would be nowhere without the media. But I’m not, so I can look at this like a regular person. St. Paul Pioneer sportswriter Brian Murphy is catching heat for his tweet on Wednesday:

And the criticism is rightfully deserved. While most people are smart enough to understand that NFL players wouldn’t be making minimum wage if the media didn’t exist, a large portion of the media believes that they are much more important than they really are, and the NFL allows them to do so.

NFL players are contractually obligated to speak with the media following games and practices. According to the guidelines of the Pro Football Writers of America, ¨star players¨ are more accountable for speaking with the media than other players. The problem with Marshawn Lynch’s act is that (obviously) he’s considered a star player on his team. This commotion wouldn’t arise if Lynch were a third string running back, or maybe even if he weren’t one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Regardless, Lynch shouldn’t be forced to speak with the media, nor should any player or coach. On Thursday, Texans running back Arian Foster appeared on ESPN First Take, and made his position clear that players shouldn’t be forced to speak with reporters. He argues that if Lynch was forced to give real responses, they would be the classic, cliche answers that most players are known to give, without giving reporters any real substance. He believes that if it weren’t mandatory for players to speak with media, many of them still would, and it would allow for better and more interesting content.


Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck gave credit to this statement in an interview with USA Today this week. He said that “most players want to have that opportunity to get their stories out there and the media’s such a great platform to do so,” insinuating that media involvement in the NFL would do just fine if players weren’t required to talk. He went on to say, “In the rare case when they don’t, I don’t think they should have to — so hopefully the NFL and the Players Association come to an agreement that takes it out of our contractual obligations.”

In the future, a rule change by the NFL would be beneficial for both players and the press. Players would be able to speak when they wanted to, and media personalities would be more certain that players would give more genuine, interesting, and more entertaining answers. Reporters wouldn’t have to crowd Bill Belichick, only to hear him say some variation of “we’re on to Seattle” for five minutes. The Marshawn Lynch controversy should hopefully force the NFL to look at their policies on media involvement, and potentially change player’s contractual obligations. Until then, however, look forward to being drowned in boring, cookie-cutter sound bytes for the rest of Super Bowl week and beyond.

With any questions, comments, concerns, or problems, I’m on Twitter

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