Going through my phone photos to clear some memory space, I almost deleted this one before recognizing what it was: The biggest blow by of Super Bowl 49.
I was trying to talk to Lynch as the star running back walked out of the Seahawks' locker room before the media was allowed into it. It was minutes after Seattle decided to not run Lynch from the 1-yard line on second down with 25 seconds left and the Seahawks trailing the Patriots 28-24 in the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson threw the ball instead -- to New England's Malcolm Butler for the game-ending interception.
Lynch was on his way to hugging friends a few feet down the hallway from where I took the picture. Goodell had just presented the Super Bowl MVP trophy to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- an award that the commissioner likely would have been giving to Lynch had the Seahawks given him a chance to score the winning touchdown from the 1. It would have been his second score of his 102-yard rushing day.
Two days earlier, in his annual state-of-the-league press conference 20 minutes away at the Phoenix Convention Center, Goodell was unequivocal in his negative opinion of Marshawn Lynch’s silent treatment toward the media. That went for last week at the Super Bowl and all season, in which the league fined Lynch $100,000 for not talking in the locker room immediately following the game at Kansas City Nov. 16.
“I think Marshawn understands the importance of the Super Bowl, the importance of his appearance, and the importance of him as an individual in this game,” Goodell said Friday. “I understand it may not be the top of his list, but everyone else is cooperating and everyone else is doing their part because it is our obligation … it comes with the privilege of playing in the Super Bowl.”
Lynch had this to say on Thursday in his final required media appearance of Super Bowl week:
“I mean, all week, I done told y’all what’s up, and for some reason y’all continue to come back,” Lynch said, an extended variation of “I’m here so I won’t fined” from Tuesday’s media day and “You know why I’m here” from Wednesday in that same hotel tent.
“I don’t know what story y’all are trying to get outta me. I don’t know what kind of image y’all are trying to portray of me. But it don’t matter what y’all think, what y’all say about me. When I go home at night, the same people I look in the face, my family and those that I love …”
He smiled broadly and shrugged.
“…that’s all that matters to me,” Lynch continued. “So y’all can make up whatever you want to make up, because I don’t say enough for y’all to put anything out on me. But I’ll come to y’all’s event. Y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat… When I’m am home, in my environment, I don’t see y’all. But y’all mad at me. If y’all not mad at me, then what y’all here for?
“I got nothin’ for y’all. I already told you that, so you should know that. But y’all will sit here like y’all are now, continue doing the same thing. I am sitting here trying to prepare for a game and y’all want to ask me all these questions — which is understandable. I can live with that. But I told y’all: I’m not about to say nothin’.
“So for the remainder of my 3 minutes, because I’m here, I’m available for you — I’m here, I’m available for y’all — I done talked. All of my requirements are filled. So now for these next three minutes, I’m just going to be looking at y’all the way that y’all’s lookin’ at me.Then he looked down his phone again.
On Friday, outspoken Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett wrote a guest column for Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback" page. In it, he ripped the media for being infatuated with whether Lynch does or does not speak -- and not inquisitive enough and lacking initiative on writing the "real stories" NFL players care about most.
Jourdan Rodrigue, a friend of mine, an Arizona State graduate and a journalist who covers Dockett as well as all other Phoenix-area sports, dropped everything she was doing and let me know she took exception to Dockett's view. She was PO'd in fact.
So, in the spirit of Dockett's "guest column" to SI, I asked Jourdan to guest write a response for us here on Seahawks Insider. She was all over it.
Voila! Here it is (after I kindly asked her to tone down some of the ammunition she had in her original missile at Dockett):
I’m 23 years old, and here’s what I know about the world: Bo-diddly.
But I can tell you this – Darnell Dockett’s piece in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback really pissed me off.
I’m just starting out in the media; just graduated last May. You can fit what I know about being a real-life writer into a red plastic kegger cup. I don’t even think the ink on my first paycheck has dried yet.
I won’t profess to have the years of experience Gregg Bell does, or know what it’s like on the inside of a team like Darren Urban [long-time Cardinals beat writer in Arizona]. I have years to go before I’m given a beat of my own, I’m sure. I don’t know about playing through injuries at a professional level, or the ache Dockett must’ve felt watching his boys out on the field this last year or what it’s like to sit up at a podium and answer the same questions over and over again without even being able to see the eyes of the person talking at you from behind a camera.
No, I won’t pretend to know a damn thing about Dockett’s world. But here’s the thing that made me mad – he’s telling me he knows all about mine.
Dockett has grouped us – every single media member out there -- into a simpering horde of sycophantic NFL butt-kissers. But I don’t know a single local guy that really wants to write another stupid pun about deflated balls or sit through another Marshawn Lynch presser. The people I know, local people like Adam Green and Kent Somers or Gregg here, they want to know about what the players care about. They want to share with the millions of people that support these players the issues that hurt them; the stories that take these larger-than-life athletes and make them relatable and human.
This is how it works, simply enough. We check the analytics of a site to see what’s getting clicked on the most. DeflateGate and Marshawn Lynch? Okay. Guess we have to keep talking about it. Because if the world around us wants to dissect it, it’s our job to give them that information. It sucks. None of us like that. Most of us would probably take a hit from, I don’t know, a 290-pound defensive end out of Florida State, to be able to write about something that matters as much as concussions or league provisions for injured players. And to have such a large soapbox upon which to stand like MMQB? Man, I’d take two hits for that.
I know it hurts the writers, too. Hearing about those guys Dockett talks about; Junior Seau and Daryl "Moose" Johnston and the hundreds more he could list if he wanted to who have been hit so much they’ve lost themselves a little bit, that hurts us, too.
Just before I graduated, I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with a guy named Cory Hahn. He was an Arizona State baseball player – you may have heard of him, California’s own “Mr. Baseball.” He’s the kid that, while at a run-of-the-mill game without a single national guy up in the press box, slid into second base, broke his spine and was paralyzed from the chest down.
And four years later, when he graduated on time despite losing the rest of his life as he knew it and having to work his tail off for hours to even get out of bed by himself in the morning to get to class, I sat across from him and sobbed in the middle of that interview when he told me he knew he’d walk again [Jourdan's remarkable story on Hahn is here].
I’m sure there were writers who sobbed about Seau, too. I know guys out there who have even been close to pulling the trigger themselves. It hurts them too. It hurts us too. As a human being, you want what’s best for the person sitting across from you, even if you’re looking at them from behind a camera. You don’t want to turn on CNN and see them talk themselves into a coma about Bill Belichick’s scientific methodology for four straight hours. You want to hear somebody care about what’s hurting you, what’s hurting the people you see every day.
The problem is, just as Dockett’s got to take certain measures to keep his job, we do too. If it’s something idiotic, bummer. National outlets have to stay on top of what’s trending – that’s why they’re national outlets. They’re generally covering what’s important to the masses – what’s getting clicked on. I can promise you not one local person I know wants to actually repeatedly write about these things. As a 23-year-old girl, I definitely don’t want to write about deflated balls.
But hey, Dockett can tell us we don’t know what’s important. He can glom us all together and say we don’t care about the real issues. That’s fine. He has a valid reason to be upset. He’s hurting about the things that matter, and that’s admirable. You know what? We are too. We’re out there. We have a quota to fill, but we’re out there.
Maybe what it’ll take to prove that to players like Dockett is leaning around the camera and asking the players we cover, "What do YOU want to talk about? What matters to you?"
Maybe it’ll take a little more writing on our side, and a little deeper reading on his.
But what do I know?