Lynch gives same answer on media day
PHOENIX (AP) — Marshawn Lynch smiled politely, waved at the crowd and answered every question the same.
“I’m here so I don’t get fined,” the Seattle Seahawks’ star running back constantly repeated for five minutes before leaving the podium at Media Day on Tuesday. It’s not clear if his plan will work.
About 200 reporters crowded around Lynch’s podium for at least 15 minutes before he arrived. But the media-shy Lynch made it clear right from the start he wasn’t saying anything except variations of his scripted answer.
Lynch set a timer on his phone and told everyone he showed up just to avoid a fine.
Lynch caught a bag of Skittles tossed from Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson and stopped to pick up a reporter’s recorder off the floor before he walked away.
The Professional Football Writers of America was talking to the league about the session and Lynch had been apprised of a potential fine. He is also required to be at media sessions Wednesday and Thursday.
In November, the NFL fined Lynch $50,000 for violations of the league’s media policy in addition to collecting the $50,000 fine that was imposed against Lynch for violations last season. The fine from 2013 was held in anticipation of future cooperation from Lynch.
“I’m fine sitting up here, but not everybody is comfortable with it so I don’t think he should be forced to do it,” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said.
Lynch has much more to say when the price is right. Insurance company Progressive and candy maker Skittles released commercials featuring Lynch saying a bit more than his usual: “Yeah” and “Nope” and “Thanks for asking.”
At Media Day last year, Lynch’s reclusiveness became a major story. Lynch appeared for 6 1/2 minutes, left the arena, and then returned to a “mixed zone” the NFL created for players not on podiums or in microphone-equipped speaking areas at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
With the exception of briefly speaking with the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders, to the Seahawks’ website, and to Armed Forces Network, he did not deal with reporters that day.
Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback, tried again to interview Lynch, but got nowhere this time and left laughing.
Teammates defended Lynch’s behavior.
“This is who he is. I don’t nitpick or judge, so I just accept a person for who they are,” All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said. “I just love who he is. He is so random.”
Sherman even continued answering questions after the 60-minute session ended.
“I don’t think (players) should be obligated any more than the commissioner is obligated to speak to the media,” Sherman said. “I think that if players are going to be obligated to speak to the media then every one of the NFL personnel should be obligated to speak to the media weekly, and that’s not the case.
“It’s unfortunate, but I think that every team should be forced to present certain players, obviously a few of them. Obviously, if someone is uncomfortable in front of the media and uncomfortable answering questions, then you have to find a way to accommodate the NFL. This is a game; you find a way to accommodate everyone else who’s uncomfortable.”
Lynch was fined $20,000 for making an obscene gesture during Seattle’s overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC championship game. The league did not specify what the gesture was, but Lynch grabbed his crotch after scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Lynch was fined $11,000 for a similar gesture in Seattle’s win over Arizona on Dec. 21.
Lynch also was told before the last game he could not wear gold shoes because they were a violation of the NFL’s on-field dress code, and that he could be ejected from the game if he wore them.
“He’s a guy that cares about everyone in that locker room,” assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “Anytime you hand it to him, he’s carrying them. He’s not carrying the football, he’s carrying his team. That’s who he is. That’s what he does.”
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