The Super Bowl Media Day was yesterday. It is one of the more anticipated events of Super Bowl Week, where all media whether it is sports or general media descend on the Super Bowl city to interact with the players and coaches of the two Super Bowl teams. Generally, there are players looking to make a name for themselves, and spin off the exposure into a career as a spokesperson for brands, or as a personality in general. Additionally, there are media members there to make a name for themselves and ask questions that can only be deemed as gimmicky or attention seeking. Nevertheless, it is a spectacle like few other things in the sporting world. However, lately another trend occurring is players who do not want to interact on media day.
Yesterday, Marshawn Lynch spoke for a total of 7 minutes before leaving his press conference area and refusing to answer any further questions. This from a player who was already fined $50 000 for not interacting with the media all season. The league has come out and said that 7 minutes was enough time, and they will not fine him. However, this sets a precedent that is somewhat dangerous for fans and media alike. It is important for players to talk to the media. Not everyone can go to the games, and get to see the action for themselves. Furthermore, not everyone understands the games to the level of the professionals playing the game, or the coaches coaching the games. Thus, it is important for the media to be able to ask questions and explain the storylines of the games. When players like Marshawn Lynch limit this process or try to stop it all together, then it hurts the fans.
I hope the NFL talks with Marshawn Lynch to fully understand why he only spoke for 7 minutes. Lynch is noted to have anxiety issues around large crowds. However, as a star of this Super Bowl, and somebody who has a chance to be game MVP, he was one of the most important participants in media day. The league should have worked with him to provide some commentary to the media, whether at media day or a different event more tolerable for Lynch. To not create that scenario for Lynch is callous of the league.
Currently, the NFL is dealing with a variety of issues that it needs to get in front of: performance enhancing drugs, homophobia, and concussions to just name a few. It needs its stars speaking and changing the narrative. It needs its stars to talk about the game, and focus on all that is good about it. Somebody like Lynch – who in the interviews he has done is well spoken and a great spokesperson for the game – would have been great at this. If he had more than 7 minutes to talk.
For us in Canada, we are all too familiar with people no showing the media. John Tortorella was not a media darling in New York, and it hurt the coverage. However, in Vancouver he has been slightly more candid, and the coverage has improved. It is important in those places to allow the story to be told, as not everyone can get to see the games live, or be aware enough to fully know what is going on.
I am also reminded of when Brian Burke in his year-end press conferences always made a point to thank the media for the coverage his team’s received good, bad, or otherwise. He understood that the economic realities of pro sports or the scarcity of tickets made it hard to everyone to get to see his teams live. Thus, when a player like Marshawn Lynch refuses to get interviewed for longer than 7 minutes, or if a player or coach provides lousy answers, it is ultimately the fan who suffers.