After Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch consistently and persistently avoided talking to reporters, the league eventually took action, reinstating a $50,000 fine from last year and imposing a new $50,000.
Now, Lynch is making himself available to the media. But he’s not saying much in response to the questions.
While technically complying by making himself available to reporters when he had previously been bailing out of the locker room before talking, Lynch isn’t complying with the spirit of the rule.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league prefers that he be more respectful of the media and the public. And at some point Lynch’s defiance could result in further financial penalties.
Look for the league to tread lightly in this inherently delicate situation. Teammates Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin already lampooned the league at a midweek press conference. Continuing to punish Lynch becomes counterproductive if it potentially prompts other players to become involved. Some players possibly could decide to join Lynch at some point, making themselves available to the media but saying nothing.
On the other hand, allowing Lynch to talk while saying nothing could eventually invite others to do the same. Sure, guys like Patriots coach Bill Belichick periodically offer up repetitive, nonsensical, and non-responsive answers like “on to Cincinnati” and “day to day,” but Belichick doesn’t always act that way.
The challenge for the league is to balance the enforcement of its media policy against the practical reality that some guys simply don’t have anything to say. Players like that are rare, and Lynch currently is the one guy whose desire not to speak is requiring the NFL to spend a lot of time thinking about a solution.