Marshawn Lynch threatened by the NFL for his media silence
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
In a league so often ravaged by unwelcome outbursts from its players, it should come with some amusement that one of its stars is currently in hot water for doing precisely the opposite. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was recently slapped by the NFL with a $50,000 fine for not speaking to the media all season. Though he’s since appealed the ruling and won, further indiscretion to the NFL’s policy will incur a $100,000 penalty.
While it’s easy to rush to Lynch’s defence—a fine for keeping out of the spotlight?—the talented back is technically in the wrong. It’s easy to say that Lynch is only getting paid to carry the rock and not to talk, but this isn’t actually true. NFL media policy states that players are required to be available to the media “following every game, and regularly during the practice week as required under league rules and their contracts.” It doesn’t matter how politely an NFL player declines an interview request—it’s still his duty. There are unpleasant or unwanted aspects to every job; saying “no” isn’t a suitable excuse for why they can’t be carried out.
Inasmuch as I understand, and personally don’t mind in the least, Lynch’s blackout of sorts, the life of a professional athlete isn’t a private one. Whether they appreciate the attention or not, it’s the expectation and responsibility of players to be there for the fans and give their two cents. It’s not their right to decide when they want to get in front of the cameras.
On the flip-side though, the NFL is being a little nitpicky here. It took them the entire regular season—17 weeks—before someone noticed. A whole season went by without anyone raising a fuss about one of the league’s top backs doing his best mute impression. Even the big, bad media—infamous for making mountains out of molehills—didn’t have an issue with it. There are so many more pressing matters that the NFL could be using its time on. It seems to be a poor publicity move to attack a likeable character on such a trivial issue—which may be why the league decided to withhold the fine for the moment.