The 2015 Super Bowl may go down as one of the most exciting championship games of all time. The matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots almost guaranteed the game would be great, with each team entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. The weeks prior to the Super Bowl should have been filled with media analysis about strengths vs. weaknesses on both teams and the historic implications of either team winning. Instead, most of the media attention was focused on off-the-field issues in New England and Seattle.
The main difference between the two teams’ media distractions was that Seattle’s was completely avoidable and self-inflicted. During the two weeks before Super Bowl XLIX Lynch gained a sort of folk hero status because of his refusal to speak to the media. Lynch has always been short and shy with reporters and admits he has no interest in speaking to the media.
However, Lynch’s recent actions were different. Instead of seeming disinterested in the media, he exuded anger. Lynch seemed to act more out of spite and malice than boredom.
Many people, Seahawks and non-Seahawks fans alike, expressed their support for Lynch’s actions, stating that he shouldn’t have to speak to the media if he doesn’t want to. Many even buy into Lynch’s statements that he has some sort of social anxiety disorder and is too shy to speak to the media. This is all nonsense.
Anyone paying attention to the situation knows that it is in fact Lynch’s, and all NFL players’, job to speak to the media at designated times. The media clause is part of their contract. Like most jobs, there are many required duties other than the main job description.
Yes, Lynch is a football player and the most important part of his job is to be the best running back he can be and to help his team win football games. But if Lynch wants to be in the NFL, he can’t pick and choose which parts of his job he will participate in.
In the NFL, players must do much more than just play football. They must adhere to the substance abuse policy, behavior policy and even the media policy. It may seem like a false equivalence to compare steroid use to talking to the media, but it is not. These are all elements of a NFL contract that players agree to before taking their money and representing the organization. If players doesn’t honor the rules of the contract, they receive a punishment.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, a former Baylor wide receiver, didn’t break a law when he drank alcohol on an airplane recently, but he did break the substance abuse policy added to his contract in order for him to be reinstated. Gordon didn’t hurt anybody by having a drink, didn’t break a law and didn’t cause a scene. Where are all his supporters to support his right to be himself?
Lynch’s claim about being too shy to speak to reporters is also hyperbole. Someone with a social anxiety disorder wouldn’t be able to perform at the highest level in front of thousands of fans during 16 games a year. However, Lynch also excels in the postseason, when there is even more pressure.
Lynch has also given good interviews before. He was closed-lipped during the 2014 Super Bowl media day only to walk off stage and give an interview to NFL Network’s Deion Sanders.
Even if Lynch does have public speaking problems, most people aren’t asking him to stand up and give the most loquacious interviews ever. Lynch could walk on stage and give one-word answers to every question and still be acting more respectful to the media and fulfill the parameters of his contract.
It seems that Lynch doesn’t understand the service the media provides to the NFL and to him. Without the media coverage, the NFL doesn’t bring in as much money.
The reason the owners are able to pay players big-money contracts is partly due to the coverage that the media provides. The relationship is symbiotic and the media outlets only cover the NFL because they profit from the interviews too. Lynch’s lack of understanding, or complete disregard, for this process is disturbing.
Lynch’s protest doesn’t hurt the people, or process, that he is actually frustrated with. The reporters who try and interview Lynch are just trying to get by and support their families on a meager income by doing the job they were assigned. If Lynch wants to change the NFL’s media policy, he’s doing it wrong.
One of the most surprising parts of Lynch’s media saga is the amount of public support he received from fans. Fans who no doubt consume sports news and who can probably relate to the underpaid reporters just trying to do their jobs. This is one of the few stories in recent times where a millionaire belittles average Joes and the public stands up and cheers for him.
Most people, even in the media, agree the NFL’s media day isn’t the most dignifying event and that some celebrities certainly have a right to be frustrated with disgusting media practices like those of the paparazzi.
However, it goes to show Lynch’s ego for him to slight the reporters who respect his private time and only try to interview him during designated media events. Lynch even went as far as saying the reporters shove microphones down his throat on the last media day before Super Bowl XLIX. Lynch was sitting on a stage at a safe distance from reporters during a sanctioned media event that he attended when he said that, yet he still receives support from most outside of the media.
Lynch’s actions are disrespectful to the media, the NFL, the Seahawks owner Paul Allen and the fans. He is also setting an awful example for children who look up to him. Lynch’s recent actions have been shameful, but the public support of them is the most disturbing part of it all.