Marshawn Lynch has spoken.
The Seattle Seahawks’ running back also kind of lectured and gave shoutouts in a mandatory press conference Thursday that was unlike his previous versions during Super Bowl week, when he just repeated the same line for five minutes. Lynch, who has been fined for failing to fulfill media obligations set by the NFL, has faced both criticism and praise for his stance. Consequently, he has carefully timed his press conferences, leaving the moment his timer goes off. During those press conferences, though, he has worn his Beast Mode hat, and may well be fined for it by the NFL because it’s unauthorized merchandise.
It’s the sort of spectacle the NFL hates because it puts rules in the spotlight, raises questions of just why athletes have to talk to reporters and stirs debate about an athlete’s identity rather than focusing on The Big Game. After a day of being pilloried and praised for his stance, Lynch spoke Thursday. He reminded everyone that he wasn’t “going to say nuthin'” and, after that, he promised to just sit there for three minutes and look at the media “the way y’all be looking at me.”
“All week I done told y’all what’s up. And for some reason you continue to come back for the same thing. I don’t know what story y’all trying to get out of me. What image you 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 to the same people I look in the face, to my family that I love, that’s all that matters. So y’all go make up whatever you want to make up, because I don’t say nothing for you to make out on. But I’ll come to your event, y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. But when I’m at home, in my environment, I don’t see y’all. But y’all mad at me. And if y’all ain’t mad at me, then what’ll y’all here for?
“I don’t have nothing for you. I told y’all that, so you should know that. But y’all sit here and continue to do the same thing. I’m here preparing for a game and y’all want to ask me all these questions, which is understandable, I can get that. But I told y’all I’m not about to say nothing. I’m here. I’m available for y’all. I’m here. I done talked. All of my requirements are fulfilled. So for these next three minutes, I’ll just be looking at y’all the way y’all be looking at me.”
With that he counted down, alerting reporters to just how much time they had left. He did pause for some shoutouts in response to efforts to get him to say more.
"Shout out Oakland, California" "Shout out Westbrook" "Shout out my teammates" "Shout out to my real Africans out there" - Marshawn Lynch
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 29, 2015
At one point, a reporter attempted to get him to be more expansive by asking him about growing up in Oakland. It didn’t work, with Lynch telling the reporter to come talk to him there.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 29, 2015
And, with that five-minute episode, he was done. Whatever impression he left is up to the recipient. Lynch has spoken at length with reporters like Mike Silver and Jeff Chadhi and he’s content to let those interviews stand. From now until Sunday night, players will not speak with the media again.