Well, it's official: Sportswriters getting huffy about Marshawn Lynch not wanting to talk to the press is officially the worst thing about this particular Super Bowl week. Just check out CBS New York's Jason Keidel's column ("From 'Beast Mode' To 'Least Mode,' Mute Marshawn A Shame") for a prize exemplar. Somehow, the content of the article is even worse than the headline.
What starts out as your standard "grumpy sportswriter grumbles about anti-social athlete" column takes a sharp turn toward "Whoa, man, what the fuck?" right after the first paragraph:
Lynch has done plenty to perpetuate his image as an ornery football star who wants to limit his exposure to 60 minutes on Sundays, collect his check and go about his business.
And he did little on Media Day to change the perception of him. His testy, truncated responses — all ending with a caustic "Boss!" — was the story out of the Prudential Center, which, ironically, is in downtown Newark, as violent a city as any in America.
OK, wait, before you get angry, allow Keidel to explain why he's seemingly drawing a completely nonsensical parallel between Lynch's shyness and the violence of Newark. He can totally do it, sort of!
If anyone can relate to a city that has surrendered to the violence and galling poverty of the ghetto, it's Lynch.
Lynch comes from an appalling part of Oakland, flanked by drugs, gangs and guns, the template commerce of the ghetto. A major network recently ran a special on Lynch, and lifted the curtain on the reticent star's life. And they didn't hold back. Lynch admitted his mistakes, with the Bills and beyond. He's been arrested several times since entering the public domain, and he's vowed to rebuild his image as someone who left the 'hood, but the 'hood never quite left him.
So Lynch grew up in a hard and dangerous neighborhood that has a lot in common with Newark, which has to do with the fact that he doesn't like talking to the media because... X, apparently. (Call this the Fermat's Last Theorem of strong takes.)
After spending a few more paragraphs detailing what a good, charitable person Lynch is, Keidel hits us with this:
Lynch was expected to expose himself for less than 45 minutes, and he was more than able to accomodate. Certainly more than the six or seven minutes he wound up giving the media. Even the few answers he gave were dripping with irritation. What's sad about the whole saga is Lynch isn't the person he's portraying in public. Which begs the question: why do it?
A certain ignorant segment of America is already quick to brand black athletes as blunt-puffing, gun-wielding thugs who spend their millions on ice and vice and strippers, among the accoutrements that have no value five minutes after they're purchased. And since Lynch is not that guy, he should make more of an effort to clean his stained reputation, using the largest stage in the world — the Super Bowl.
This is some next-level concern trolling, and a truly sinister sleight-of-hand. Somehow, in just a few hundred words, Keidel has made "being impatient and dodgy with the media" interchangeable with "being a no-good thug." Of course, Jason Keidel doesn't personally see Lynch as a thug—don't you remember him mentioning Lynch's big and charitable heart?—he just knows that some people out there do see Lynch that way. Jason Keidel just wishes that Lynch would be nicer to the media so that those people would let go of their stereotypes. Because, obviously, not being open with the media is tantamount to being a "blunt-puffing, gun-wielding thug."
Which is all very admirable, but there appears to be exactly one person drawing a connection between a football player who simply doesn't like doing interviews and the word "thug," and his name is Jason Keidel.