Top-tier football players can make millions of dollars a year. Yet many players end up taking home less than expected as the result of fines imposed by the league.
One player who has racked up an intimidating amount of fines over the course of his career is legendary running back Marshawn Lynch. Over the course of his 13 seasons in the NFL, Lynch has run afoul of league rules on a variety of occasions.
Marshawn Lynch’s first fine
Lynch’s first fine came back in 2009, at the start of his third season with the Buffalo Bills. Unlike later fines, that incident didn’t stem from Lynch’s on-field conduct.
Rather it had to do with misdemeanor weapons charges that Lynch received during the off-season. Lynch was arrested on felony charges for the possession of a concealed firearm, following a traffic incident according to ESPN.
Lynch pled guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service. Yet the incident violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a disciplinary hearing, at which it was decided that Lynch would serve a three-game suspension and pay a fine of $91,557, per Spotrac. Lynch appealed the decision, but it was ultimately upheld.
Marshawn Lynch cleaned up his act and avoided any other fines with the NFL until 2013. In that year, he received a minor $5,250 fine for wearing green shoes. Then, in 2014, Lynch earned an $11,050 fine for excessive celebration in a week 16 game his Seattle Seahawks were playing against the Arizona Cardinals.
That incident, which occurred at the end of Lynch’s 79-yard touchdown run, involved a crotch grab that the league deemed an inappropriate gesture. A little less than a month later, Lynch received a second fine for another inappropriate gesture, in a game against the Green Bay Packers. Because it was a repeat violation, the NFL beefed the fine up to $20,000.
Marshawn Lynch’s big fines
Most of the fines discussed so far were relatively mild in terms of their dollar amount. Twice in his career, however, Lynch has incurred fines of $100,000 or more.
The first came in November 2014, just before both of the crotch-grabbing incidents discussed above. The NFL fined Lynch a cool $100,000 for violating their media policy.
What happened was that Lynch refused to speak to reporters following a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. According to the NFL’s media policy, players are obligated to address the media after games. Technically, that fine was for $50,000. Yet Lynch had already fallen afoul of the media policy in 2013.
The NFL agreed to suspend that fine, according to ESPN, while warning Lynch that any future violations would cause it to be reinstated. By refusing to speak to the media in 2014, Lynch was forced to pay for both incidents.
Lynch’s single most expensive fine came in 2017, and cost him a grand total of $110,661. At the time, Lynch was playing for the Oakland Raiders. In the second quarter of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Lynch joined a scuffle caused by a late hit on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. During that scrum, Lynch bumped a game official in the chest, and then grabbed him by his jersey.
Lynch was immediately ejected from the game, and a few days later the league announced that he would serve a one-game suspension. The fine itself consisted of the exact dollar value in salary and bonuses that Lynch would have earned for that game. Instead, the money was forfeited and went to the league.