Marshawn Lynch hates talking to the media. Hates it. He's skipped enough appearances this season that the NFL threatened him with a six-figure fine if he didn't speak at yesterday's Media Day. Lynch took the podium for just six unconstructive minutes, before retreating behind the scenes. Now the Pro Football Writers of America want his head.
Lynch was corralled by Deion Sanders for an enjoyable chat, in which he essentially laid out his manifesto re: talking to the press. "I'm just about that action, boss...I ain't never seen no talking winning nothing."
The NFL later confirmed that Lynch had met his obligations, if as minimally as possible.
This morning comes a statement from the PFWA, penned by president D. Orlando Ledbetter:
The Pro Football Writers of America, the official voice of pro football writers fighting and promoting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public, is extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Tuesday.
Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch's conduct and refusal to answer any questions.
We find the statement that by the league that "Players are required to participate and he participated" to be an affront to our membership.
However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation.
I want to be understanding here. The writers have jobs to do, and as cynical and forced as Media Day is, it's a lot harder for them to do those jobs if players won't talk. On the other side, the NFL clearly believes that players' availability is important to the whole Super Bowl experience—it wouldn't mandate pressers if it didn't.
On the other hand, grow up. Media Day is awful. It is almost completely useless. For the league, which doesn't need to prime the pump to keep Broncos-Seahawks in the news, it exists to keep up the illusion that there's an actual week's worth of Super Bowl Week. For the reporters, it's fodder to fill column inches, and very few of those inches add anything of value to the conversation. Here's an actual headline from yesterday: "Golden Tate doesn't feel Seattle's offense is being overlooked." Tate was asked if he felt the Seahawks' offense deserves more attention than it's getting. He said no. That was the story.
The only stuff that comes out of Media Day that's worth paying attention to are the anomalies, like random questions about strippers. Questions that almost certainly don't come from PFWA members.
(For the record, PFWA president D. Orlando Ledbetter's big column from Media Day is about Champ Bailey, who "is the anti-Richard Sherman," in part because he "has been a model of consistency and class.")
Really, the only thing that needs to be said to the PFWA statement is that Marshawn Lynch's refusal to talk was the biggest story of the day. The writers should be thanking him for throwing some unpredictability into a day of boilerplate. It provided more amusement, and yes, more of a genuine window into what makes a player tick, than any string of press conference platitudes could have. It was good enough for Ledbetter to file a story on, anyway.