Saturday, February 7, 2015

Marshawn Lynch: Misquoted and Misunderstood

Over the past few months, we've all watched this superstar Running Back get "lynched" for refusing to thoroughly answer any trap questions as he spewed out sarcasm to weirdly express his discomfort. 

To some, Marshawn Lynch is a true champion because he decided to take a stand against the media with his clever form of silent treatment, after previously being misquoted by a journalist. To others, he's an arrogant, ungrateful, illiterate thug who only cares about flaunting and basking in his millions.

Why wouldn't the Seattle Seahawks allow him to transform into Beast Mode on 2nd down, edging the 1 yard line, with :28 seconds and one timeout remaining in #SB49? The lingering question that remains from the 2014-2015 season, along with others like: 

Why was Ray Rice suspended then subsequently expelled as a result of his case blowing up publicly? 

Why was Adrian Peterson dismissed for doing what many other fathers do in private?

Process of elimination, perhaps?

The NFL thrives on controlling their stock and making examples out of the few players that, for various reasons, become outcasts. Furthermore, athletes must obey the rules or else be subjected to fines that may or may not severely affect their salaries. But these so-called rules aren't fair all-around. Hence, no repercussions for the Patriots and their deflategate scandal, which enabled them to advance and win this year's Super Bowl, despite a previous history of skillful cheating (if that's such a thing). Because Tom Brady is the ideal championship player, a world-defined passionate leader, he received an illegal pass on the quest to obtain his fourth ring. This isn't an argument about race; however, there is absolutely no crying equality in football. 

Marshawn Lynch's refusal to bow down to reporters coupled with his open defiance rubbed his bosses the wrong way. Regardless of overall public opinion, everyone somewhat agrees that an employee must adhere to strict policies that are set in place to ensure that things run smoothly, whether they want to or not. Contracts are legally binding and it's important to know and understand your rights before signing on a dotted line, especially when you're urged to forfeit a scholarship-covered education in order to capitalize on present monetary offers (i.e. Jameis Winston). 

Why are some athletes more obedient and willing to cooperate with the league's system? Take Lynch's teammate Russell Wilson, for example... a young, talented, God-fearing quarterback who keeps his faith at the forefront and rarely makes any character-altering mistakes, on or off the field. Although he's ultimately responsible for the game-ending Super Bowl play by throwing an interception, the focus is on Marshawn because even as the big bad wolf, he was expected to be the hero. Why else would the hype be so astounding as the anticipation was building up for kickoff?

"Football is a team sport," according to #24, as stated in his post-game interview. I don't know what's more strange - the fact that he acknowledged the paparazzi's obsession with shoving microphones in his face, though his agitation was clear, or his lack of honesty by not stating how he truly felt. Despite what was said, many previous events support the theory that Marshawn wanted to shine and redeem his image; he wanted to flip the script and prove his critics wrong, for once and for all; he wanted to amend the fact that his main source of income was constantly threatened for some unwarranted reasons like: displaying a signature, borderline offensive scoring move, for subtly promoting his popular BM brand by wearing a hat engraved with his logo, for desiring to accent the colorful Seahawks uniform with a pair of stylish gold cleats, for wearing headphones that weren't approved by higher-ups for product placement, but the opportunity wasn't provided for him to come to his team's rescue. He was too much of a distraction and the time had come to teach him a lesson of humility.

All season long, he wasn't allowed to be himself, the guy from Oakland, California, who was raised my a single mother and fell in love with a sport that helped him escape the hood he enthusiastically and selflessly gives back to via his Fam 1st FoundationEvery African-American male athlete seems to have the same story, a story with an angle that portrays them all to be dependent on their physical skills of throwing, catching, running, jumping, shooting, etc. Skills that often overshadow their IQs. Athletes should be smart enough to play a mental game at a high level, but not smart enough to finish college. Simple enough to follow directions and hard enough to overcome an injury. And mature, at every stage, no matter the amount of experience. Unreasonable expectations indeed.

Marshawn Lynch is the 215-pound often falsely-accused bully, who loves eating Skittles, that some people are afraid of. Since he's also the guy who cushions messy dreadlocks under his helmet, covers his teeth with temporary grills, and has a non-felony arrest history, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Head Coach, Pete Carroll, football fans and many others happen to agree that the villain role suits him best. The color of his skin isn't a factor, they say. It's the way he rebels against what he's told to do and his unwillingness to respect authority, those who can pull the plug on his career on any given Sunday, that puts him in danger. His actions send the wrong message to the young men who admire him, they also say. The truth is, even if young men with backgrounds similar to Marshawn's decide to submit, chances are their MVP dreams will still be crushed by a defensive player who takes matters into his own hands, too... ex: Darren Wilson. 

This case may not be as deep as I've dissected, but it's evident that Black Lives Matter only after they're gone. If Marshawn Lynch leaves Seattle to play for another organization that will trust him with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line, the likelihood of them appearing in a future Super Bowl is slim to none. They need him, with his misunderstood persona intact. Despite his professional flaws and tainted reputation, at least he remains in control of his own destiny, and can still muster up the gratitude to repeatedly utter, "Thanks for asking", even when he's depicted as the world's most ill-mannered interview target.