Apparently, Marshawn hates the media. He has a long track record of trying to avoid talking to reporters. Last week he churlishly gave the following responses to every reporter’s question at a press conference:
“I’m here so I won’t get fined.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a strong warning and said the league would soon decide on an appropriate fine.
Whatever your thoughts on Goodell and his handling of various wife-beating episodes in the league, Goodell is clearly in the right here and Lynch is in the wrong.
For some reason, Lynch doesn’t seem to understand that his huge multi-million dollar salary comes mostly from selling eyeballs to advertisers through advertising. Lynch erroneously thinks he is in the sports business when he is really in the media/advertising business.
If Lynch really wants to be “pure” and just be an athlete, then he should offer to just play for a true player’s rate. By my rough back-of-the envelope calculations, that would mean instead of making $5 million a year, he should remove one zero, and make $500,000.
I’m sure his team and the league would be willing to accommodate him. I’m also pretty sure that Lynch could learn to love media interviews if it meant an extra $4.5 million a year if it also meant never getting hit or injured by a reporter as well.
The other sad thing for Lynch is this: The real money for star athletes is what they can make after their career is over, if and only if they have a good media image and can leverage their name ID into a lucrative career as a spokesperson, on-air analyst/celebrity. Lynch seems to be doing everything in his power to be destroying tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in future personal revenues in this arena.
I don’t know anything about Lynch except for this: 99.9999% of the world can never have the talent needed to be a star running back in the NFL (like Lynch), even if they practiced 10 hours a day for 20 years. But 99.999% of people in the world (who don’t have a major neurological problem) can learn to be quite competent at answering questions from the media, typically in 8 hours or less of training.
Of course it’s not uncommon for rich people to do crazy things to make themselves look like fools (Witness, for example, everything Donald Trump has ever said or done in, say, the last 10 years). But it still seems like a bizarre waste of time, talent, and resources for a star of Lynch’s magnitude to act so foolishly because, I suspect, a simple lack of training.
By the way, I’m often asked if I conduct media training for NFL stars. I have trained Super Bowl winners and other NFL greats after their careers, but not when they were active players. The reason? The arrogance of the NFL and individual teams is insufferable. For example, a number of years ago, the NY Giants called me to ask if I would conduct media training for all their rookies. Numerous calls and negotiations followed. When all was said and done, the Giants basically wanted me to pay them for the right to be able to say I had media trained an NFL team. In other worlds, they were trying to (legally) extort me the same way they (legally) extort towns into giving them billion dollar stadiums for free. I exaggerate only slightly: the Giants wanted me to reduce my fees by roughly 90%. I informed them that if I were going to be making large charitable donations of my time, it wouldn’t be to an organization where employees make $5 million an year and the owners are billionaires.
I haven’t heard form the NFL since then, which is fine by me.
TJ Walker conducts media training workshops for RETIRED NFL stars, CEOS, Presidents of countries and Prime Ministers around the world. You can reach him at 212.764.4955