Why has Marshawn Lynch’s name been in the media so often lately? Part of the reasons is that the football sensation Seattle Seahawks have risen to a second Super Bowl in as many years. Lynch is a star on that squad, along with quarterback Russell Wilson, corner Richard Sherman, and many other intelligent Black folk who have shocked the league with their tenacious defense and offense, their gutsy and strategic play, and also with their wit.
Recently Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch showed that he could outsmart the white media during the Media Day press conference event for the Super Bowl. When asked questions from white media, Lynch responded: “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” In other words, no comment. I plead the fifth.
The NFL has previously fined Marshawn Lynch thousand of dollars for not talking to the media, so on Media Day, he decided to show up to avoid the fine but not disclose any information about his thoughts on the game.
White media has gone into an utter frenzy over this comment.
Even Black members of white media partake in nonsense like harassing Marshawn Lynch for his choice to keep to himself and away from the media spotlight. They are some of the most vocal opponents of Marshawn Lynch—all because Lynch doesn’t want Smith and other media pundits to have his name in their mouths.
The most ludicrous response yet has come from Stephen A. Smith, the popular commentator on ESPN’s First Take, formerly a sports writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Smith said that not only should Marshawn Lynch be fined for not talking to the media, he should be fined 20 times, each time he refuses to share his thoughts. Really? 20 times? When did Stephen A. Smith become Samuel L. Jackson from Django Unchained?
For the record, let Stephen A. Smith and all the other Marshawn Lynch and Seattle Seahawk haters be reminded of one inalienable concept: that of freedom of speech.
As part of his citizenship to the United States, Marshawn Lynch is exercising his national rights. We often forget that freedom of speech is also the freedom to not speak, if that’s your prerogative.
In no way is a football player or any celebrity obligated to share his personal thoughts, aspirations, or his perspective to the media. If anything, we are privileged when we do get a chance to hear insight from a person whose opinion is deeply valued. We do not have the rights to a person’s thoughts. We are only privileged if they feel we are worthy to share their thoughts with us.
What’s more, the white media only wants Marshawn Lynch to partake in its festivities because of profit and control.
Let us not forget that historically and at present, whites have found immense pleasure exercising control over Black bodies.
During times of slavery, white America’s second great sin, whites regulated not only the sale of Black bodies, but also wanted to control when Black people ate, worked, and slept—not to mention who they slept with. Whites wanted to control whether Black people learned how to read and write.
This is no different from today when preposterous legislation and rulebooks only demonstrate the lingering attitude that whites continue to believe they should have domain over Black bodies.
In the NFL, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties arise, because whites want to control how Black people celebrate, when and if they touch their genitals, and perhaps for how long.
Just look across the landscape of sports to soccer, the world’s football. After goals, players celebrate at length. It’s only natural to dance, smile, and jeer when you’ve scored. But in the NFL, even the most creative jubilations like the Atlanta Falcons’ Dirty Bird dance, are exed out in the name of unsportsmanlike conduct.
What we have now is another situation of white rule makers desiring control over Black bodies. They want to control when Marshawn Lynch speaks and for how long. And they want to penalize him financially if he does not want to submit to their unruly and inhumane coercion.
Who profits the most off the backs of Black labor in the NFL and the NBA, in hip hop and the music industry? The Media Day event is not for athletes and fans; it is more money in the bank for networks and corporations.
Certainly there is nothing to gain personally or financially by engaging in dialogue with sports commentators, only something to lose. White media is only waiting for a player to slip up and say something unorthodox, so that it will have a sound bite to run on.
When there is blood in the water, the white media sharks will circle. Players and celebrities have little to gain from talking to the media. The only benefit for them is a minute possibility of increasing their publicity. But again this is a choice for them to make and not for audiences and the media to decide.
Another probable reason for this fuss about Lynch is that the white media spectacle is only a desperate attempt to conjure up some story about the Seattle Seahawks that counters the New England Patriots’ deflate-gate scandal. When the Patriots have a cheating scandal in their shadows, there is a need for white media to concoct a narrative that makes the Seahawks out to be the villains.
Hence, the focus on: “I’m just here, so I won’t get fined.”
It’s all they got. And it ain’t much.
If you are like Marshawn Lynch, a talented and hardworking player, your game speaks for itself. You don’t have to add any flamboyant words to punctuate it. Just watch the tape.
In a one-on-one interview with former NFL and MLB player Deion Sanders, Marshawn Lynch reiterated that talking at the podium to the press does nothing to improve his game, which is what football is all about for him.
Lynch describes his personality as “Laid back, kick back. Minding my own business, staying in my own lane.” He added: “I’m just ‘bout that action, boss. I ain’t never seen talking win nothing.”