By now, Marshawn Lynch's natural reticence to speak to reporters—even when contractually obligated to do so—has metastasized into something else entirely; after a season of locker-room verbal combat, it's less shyness than it is defiance. Defiance of league regulations he believes are illogical, of a press corps whose interests clash with his own, and of being repeatedly fined for the unthinkable crime of just wanting to chill out and not deal with people sometimes. By now, Lynch is making a statement, whether he planned it or not. But this time last year, he was willing to shed rare light on why he's so stubborn about this.
Ahead of last year's Super Bowl, a full year before he gave the world's most honest press conference, Lynch gave an extensive and instructive interview to NFL.com's Michael Silver. (Seriously, it's a great profile—probably the best of a guy who genuinely hates talking about himself—go read it.)
Well into the piece, Silver (who's been close with Lynch for many years) got Lynch to expound upon why he doesn't just play ball.
"I've never seen anybody win the game in the media. But at the same time, I understand what it could do for you, if you wanted to be someone who talks a lot. But that's not me.
"And I'm not as comfortable, especially at the position I play, making it about me. As a running back, it takes five offensive linemen, a tight end, a fullback and possibly two wide receivers, in order to make my job successful. But when I do interviews, most of the time it'll come back to me. There are only so many times I can say, 'I owe it to my offensive linemen,' or, 'The credit should go to my teammates,' before it becomes run down.
"This goes back even to Pop Warner. You'd have a good game and they'd want you to give a couple of quotes for the newspaper, and I would let my other teammates be the ones to talk. That's how it was in high school, too. At Cal, I'd have my cousin, Robert Jordan, and Justin Forsett do it.
"Football's just always been hella fun to me, not expressing myself in the media. I don't do it to get attention; I just do it 'cause I love that (expletive)."
That sounds simple and reasonable enough. He doesn't enjoy it, he doesn't see how he stands to benefit, and he's uncomfortable receiving attention and praise that he thinks belongs to others. Those don't really sound like the reasons of a grandstander who thinks he's above all this. This isn't an act, and it isn't arrogance, but it might be a kind of pride:
Lynch is infinitely more interesting than Russell Wilson, who is polished to a featureless sheen. In his own way, Lynch is every bit as fascinating and, yes, as quotable as Richard Sherman or Michael Bennett—he never fails to provide column material, even if that column is just self-defeating contumely about how Lynch isn't providing column material.
The thing is that it's possible to write, and to write well about Marshawn Lynch without squeezing him for dishwater platitudes, be it an opinion piece or a thoroughly reported profile. Something like this, from the Seattle Times, tells a fleshed-out and humanizing story of who Lynch is, even without his participation. And it's Lynch's very refusal to engage that fills in the rest of the blanks.