You hear what Marshawn Lynch says about the Super Bowl? Neither did we
BY RICK TELANDER Staff Columnist January 29, 2014 9:45PM
Updated: March 3, 2014 4:26PM
NEW YORK — Making a football player talk to the media is a little like making a donkey sing for oats.
What you want is a creature who can throw bullets or run through a wall — or, in the donkey’s case, carry a load of junk along the mountain trail — not an actor or philosopher.
But Super Bowl buildup is such that if we didn’t have players chattering about everything on earth we would have nothing at all.
Which brings up Marshawn Lynch, the Beast, as he’s known to loving Seattle Seahawks fans.
Lynch gives the media quite possibly what it deserves. Nothing.
On the field, the four-time Pro Bowl running back will shift to “Beast Mode,’’ and destroy anything in his path. That’s pretty much what a coach wants. It’s certainly what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wants.
Of Lynch’s refusal to cooperate properly with mandated media back-and-forth, Carroll says, “We [the Seahawk] celebrate the individuality and uniqueness of our guys.’’
That is, Marshawn carried the rock 50 times for 249 yards and three TDs in our two postseason games — can you hear that?
What does Carroll care if Lynch gets fined 50 grand or so for not dancing around at the media sessions? The 5-11, 215-pound sixth-year pro will get a lot more than that if the Seahawks beat the Broncos on Sunday.
“Not everybody is the same,’’ said Carroll on Wednesday, when grilled about Lynch. This is true. Some players love the limelight. Some get shocked by its glare.
Lynch now has a hoodie-up, retro-sunglasses look that not only blocks our view of him, but has an eerie resemblance to early sketches of the Unabomber. Add the Dr. Dre Beats headphones that often clamp the whole look together and Lynch can be as bundled up and inscrutable as a sack of mail.
The thought occurs: Could the Beats become the “Beast,’’ a new offshoot? Just a letter moved? No. Lynch doesn’t seem gregarious enough even to make idle chatter, let alone read from a script.
Asked what he thought about playing in his first Super Bowl, he replied without tone or inflection, “I’m just taking it all in, boss.’’
Asked for details, he said, “I’m here, man, so I don’t have to pay the fine, boss.’’
At one point Wednesday, Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, seated to Lynch’s left in the interview room, broke forth to help with communication.
“If Marshawn ain’t able to say nothing to you guys, you can direct your questions to me,’’ he said.
OK. So how does Lynch feel about all the Super Bowl stuff?
“He hasn’t talked to you guys for most of his life. I think he just said that. He just wants to play ball, boss.’’
And what does “Beast Mode’’ mean to Marshawn?
“It’s a lifestyle, boss,’’ replied Robinson.
And Skittles, his favorite candy?
“He loves his Skittles before the game, boss.’’
In short order, Lynch stepped around Robinson, over some chairs, and bolted into an area where only players and coaches could exit.
On Tuesday he “spoke’’ to the media for 6 minutes, 20 seconds. Wednesday it was almost seven minutes. The agony!
In truth, some players — some humans — are wildly uncomfortable speaking in front of others or even being the slightest bit thoughtful or introspective. They live in a sort of momentary world of instinct and mental silence. So be it.
Former NFL running back Ricky Williams had an anxiety disorder that made him clam up when interviewed. Dwayne Thomas, the former Cowboys running back, famously detested speaking to the media. Before Super Bowl VI he gave his all-time response to Super Bowl hype: “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?’’
Then, too, some guys are just insolent jerks. Pro football is a hurtin’ game, remember, and it doesn’t require high character to cripple another human. Some might say such virtue might even detract from the mission.
And yet there are players who revel in speaking, and doing it well and with intellect and insight. They also understand that courteous communication won’t hurt, not for one silly week, that’s for sure.
The Broncos’ Peyton Manning will talk about anything, anytime. And he will sum up his remarkable career as best he can, nodding at age, at frailty, at the philosophy of an old quarterback who believes “it’s healthy to take some time to reflect and smell the roses.’’
Seahawks live wire Richard Sherman has deflected all criticism of his NFC Championship postgame antics by being the smartest, nicest, most-accommodating man in the room. He smiles and informs, and he means it.
Ironically, Lynch, by being an irritating non-talker, has become precisely what he never wanted to be: The talk of the town.