Here's the last half of Marshawn's Lynch's curt, polite press conference after he ran off a play that everyone wanted to talk about. Without taking sides, it's easy to understand why reporters are frustrated that Lynch wouldn't play ball. It's also easy to understand why Lynch hates this shit.

We've seen this before. Lynch stonewalls reporters (last time it was "yeah," this time it's "thanks for asking"), people get mad, Lynch gets fined, and the world keeps turning. It looks funny in print:

But the transcript only tells half the story; it doesn't have the exact questions. Note the ones we can hear in the video above, and how they're phrased.

  • "Can you talk about..."
  • "Can you take us through..."
  • "Can you describe..."
  • "How about the..."

Followed by a yes/no question.

And the questions from last month's "yeah" interview.

  • "How about the..."
  • "What was going on with...
  • "How important was it to...
  • "Can you talk about..."
  • "How about the..."
  • "Any thoughts on..."
  • "Talk about the..."

These aren't questions. These are prompts, from reporters who don't actually have specific knowledge holes they want filled; they have holes in their game stories, and they have deadlines. The gamer formula requires a quote from a player immediately after mentioning something he did, even if that quote isn't enlightening or educational or entertaining in any way.


Why? Because it's one of the only concrete things that differentiates a story written by someone who spent their Sunday in a press box from one written by someone who watched from the comfort of their own couch. It's no wonder the beat people get defensive when denied even that paltry prize.

This morning, a good number of reporters are furious that Marshawn Lynch didn't play along and offer platitudes to make readers' eyes roll back in their skulls

It's an entirely reasonable frustration. Reporters have to play this game, even if they realize how dumb it is, and they rely on athletes to play their roles in the ecosystem. Sure, no one's life would be better this morning if they knew that Marshawn Lynch understood the importance of giving 110 percent, or that the Seahawks were taking things one game at a time. But the writers' lives would have been easier, their stories 50 words closer to their word counts.


It's an institutional failure. In other sports, there are long histories of reporters traveling with teams, entering open clubhouses, actually getting to know players. In football, there isn't really such a thing as a beat reporter, at least not to the same extent as in an everyday sport; every writer is a war correspondent parachuting into a strange country where they're not particularly welcome. Blame it on the weekly schedule, or the centralized league control, or the fact that every game is national, but the only interactions most writers have with star players come in these unfruitful group scrums, where the best they can hope for is a quote so good that it'll wind up in every single story.

This isn't an insurmountable condition. There are good reporters, and there are sometimes great quotes and great insights waiting to be mined. In the "yeah" presser, one asked Lynch a specific, tactical question about the Seahawks' blocking schemes. That reporter was genuinely curious, and if Lynch had answered, it might have helped readers better understand the game. That ought to be the platonic ideal of an interview question.

Instead, Lynch receives a string of lazy "talk about"s and "tell me about"s, and after dealing with that multiple times per week, every week, for the entirety of his adult life, his frustration is every bit as visible and as justified as reporters'. Neither the writers nor players have easy jobs, but I'll always have more respect for Lynch's reaction in this spat. After all, he's the only one who's not just going through the motions.