- Ashley Fox
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Did we learn nothing about the power of words last week from Richard Sherman? Did we not learn that there could be more to a man than what he says, or, in this case, doesn't say?
Didn't we learn not to rush to judge Sherman for his postgame tirade against San Francisco's Michael Crabtree, and if so, shouldn't that mean that we don't rush to judge Marshawn Lynch for not wanting the attention Sherman so easily embraces?
Lynch didn't want to participate in the NFL's annual orgy known as Super Bowl media day. So what? That he participated for 6½ minutes, instead of the required hour, isn't a big deal.
Lynch didn't disrespect his fans. He didn't steal the spotlight from his teammates. He didn't prevent the media from doing their jobs. He wasn't giving enlightening answers in the short time he did speak. Extrapolating that session over an entire hour would have meant a whole lot of nothing.
Lynch just doesn't like to talk to the media. He doesn't trust questioners he doesn't know. He doesn't want to open up to strangers. It isn't breaking news. The NFL fined him $50,000 earlier this season for not talking to the media before suspending the fine as long as Lynch cooperated with subsequent required sessions.
At media day, Lynch spoke for a few minutes, answered a few questions about why he shies from the media, about growing up in Oakland and about why he runs so hard.
A sample of his insights:
On his feelings about media day and the fans who attended: "Man, I appreciate this. This is love right here, straight up. They came to watch people get interviewed? This is amazing right here, man."
On why his interviews are, as a reporter characterized them, uncomfortable: "I think you're just taking it wrong. [It] don't make me uncomfortable."
On whether he enjoys the media attention: "Nope. I'm just about action. You say, 'hut,' and there's action. All the unnecessary talk, it don't do nothing for me. I appreciate that people want to hear from me, but I just go to work and do my thing. You feel me?"
There was a little more, about Denver's defense and winning a high school football championship in Oakland and then one about being traded from Buffalo to Seattle in 2010.
The last answer came next, after Lynch was asked whether he has been able to enjoy the moment of being at his first Super Bowl as a player: "A little bit. I won't be satisfied with this until it's all over. When we win, that's when I'll be satisfied. Until then, I've got work, but I appreciate all this.
"Ya'll have a good day."
Then, Lynch bounced.
Lynch left the festivities for a few minutes and then returned, still shaded by a hat underneath the hood of his gray Seahawks sweatshirt and a pair of gold-rimmed sunglasses. With at least one staffer from the team, league and NFL Players Association nearby, Lynch leaned against a backdrop where the Seahawks' offensive reserves were corralled.
He did an interview with former NFL receiver Randy Moss, who is working as an analyst for Fox. He did another with Deion Sanders of NFL Network. And then he refused to answer all further questions, except this one: Was he trying to avoid a fine from the NFL for not participating by standing in the designated media area but not talking?
Lynch nodded slowly.
It was the most honest answer he gave all day.
The thing about it is, Lynch's teammates don't care, so why should we? Sherman embraces the platform his success has brought him and has used it to try to encourage deeper thought about issues of race and the pervasive use of the word "thug" to describe African-American men. Lynch shuns the same platform his success has brought him. That's his right.
After thoughtfully answering question after question even after the allotted 60 minutes had expired, Sherman tweeted a picture of his view of the cameras from his podium and wrote, "Media Day was a blast!" As soon as the arena announcer declared the Seahawks' media session closed, Lynch turned to his right and headed for the exit.
"I just heard he did seven minutes," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Lynch.
"He did 6:28," a reporter replied.
Carroll gave a fist pump and said, "Yeah."
Given how briefly Lynch spoke after the Seahawks beat San Francisco to advance to the Super Bowl, the 6½ minutes seemed like an eternity.
Some will call Lynch selfish for refusing to adequately fulfill his media obligations on the NFL's biggest stage. Lynch likely will be painfully quiet in the two remaining hourlong media appearances he must make before he can fully turn his attention to blasting through the Denver defense and trying to help Seattle win its first Super Bowl.
And if Lynch does just that and still doesn't want to talk about it, so what? Sherman reminded us that words matter. They matter to Lynch, too. He just doesn't want to share them.
2dEric D. Williams
2dMel Kiper Jr.