Why Doesn’t Marshawn Lynch Talk at Press Conferences?

In the week leading up to the 2015 Super Bowl, a strange series of events took place. Seahawks running back and 2013 Super Bowl champ Marshawn Lynch didn’t want to talk to the press.

His methods were unprecedented. Every time the press asked Lynch a question, he had only one thing to say. In firm and varied tones, he repeated the mantra: “I’m here so I won’t get fined.” How did Lynch’s relationship to the press get so toxic? Let’s dive in.

Marshawn Lynch’s history with the press

Lynch’s stonewalling stuck out with the Seahawks in particular. Quarterback Russell Wilson is polished in the clean-cut way of most modern NFL players. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a talkative Stanford grad, brought a defiant old-school style to his media interactions.

Lynch was neither of those things. Nor was he simply average. His venom for the sports media, in particular, is on display every time he ambles into a post-game conference. Lynch’s blatant shutdown became a bit of a catchphrase. And his attitude became a story in itself.

Halftime performer Katy Perry even used it in her own press conference. Clearly, this wasn’t the result Lynch was looking for. So he switched gears.

Since 2015, Lynch’s press interactions have been extremely polite and as limited as possible. But before then, just once, Lynch seized the opportunity to clear things up — albeit, in a way that still requires reading between the lines.

The moment Lynch lectured the press

“Y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat,” Lynch said. “But when I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all, but y’all mad at me. And if you ain’t mad at me, then what y’all here for? I ain’t got nothing for y’all, though. I told y’all that.”

Lynch shouted out his family. He shouted out his teammates — repeatedly. And most crucially, he shouted out his Oakland, California-based Family First Foundation. The running back’s uncharacteristically verbose comments, as indirect as they are, say a lot. Combined with comments from Lynch’s teammates, a picture finally emerges.

The 33-year-old clearly wishes the press cared about him, his family, and his community more. The media does care about drama off the field, like repeatedly asking about Lynch’s 2014 DUI. But they don’t appear to care much about who he is outside of football or gossip.

Another event happened with the press in 2014. One that may also have contributed to Lynch’s higher levels of defiance in 2015 and almost certainly to his attitude toward the press that persists to this day.

How the reaction to Richard Sherman’s pop off likely formed Lynch’s views

Lynch never commented on Richard Sherman’s infamous moment directly. However, it’s hard to imagine that Lynch didn’t have a private reaction to it. Sherman came on strong. And interviewer Erin Andrews’ befuddled, almost shaken reaction was likely what made this moment stand out.

Various members of the press called the Stanford grad a “thug” afterward. This moment and the fallout could explain why Lynch became even more forcefully dedicated to stonewalling the media.

After that fraught run of 2015 pre-Super Bowl press conferences, Lynch changed his approach. Even now, he keeps his interactions with the media as short as possible. The difference is, he keeps things positive and polite.

His career, now two temporary retirements in, is winding down. It’s unlikely that we’ll see him change his style — at least, not while he’s an employee of the NFL.

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