By Dennis Waszak Jr. Associated Press
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Beast Mode was Least Mode again.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch abruptly ended his media availability — again — walking away from a throng of reporters while escorted by a member of the New Jersey State Police on Wednesday after about 7 uncomfortable minutes in which he answered just a few questions.
The elusive Lynch, who created a stir at media day Tuesday by talking for only 61/2 minutes, writhed in his seat and leaned his head back at times. A few dozen reporters, lined up as much as five deep, tried to ask questions during the players’ 45-minute availability at the team hotel.
“I really don’t have too much to say, boss,” Lynch said in a tone barely above a whisper. “I really don’t. I appreciate it, but I don’t get it. I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
Earlier this month, Lynch was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with the Seattle media. The NFL put that fine on hold, saying it would be rescinded if he complied with media obligations. During media day, Lynch spoke for 61/2 minutes before leaving, then returning to speak to Deion Sanders for NFL Network, to the Seahawks website, and to Armed Forces Network — and acknowledged he was trying to avoid being fined by the league for not meeting his media requirements.
It didn’t appear Lynch would be fined, for either Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Players are required to participate and he participated,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press. “His comments of the past two days have been widely circulated.”
In a statement before Tuesday’s media session, the Pro Football Writers of America said it was “extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access” to Lynch at media day. The PFWA added that several “long-standing and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions.”
The organization also called the statement by the league that Lynch participated Tuesday “an affront to our membership,” but added that it was “encouraged” that the NFL would continue to monitor the situation.
Players have clauses in their contract requiring them to cooperate with the media.
Fullback Michael Robinson, one of Lynch’s buddies who was seated to his left, even poked fun at the situation by asking Lynch a question of his own.
“What do you think of your fullback?” Robinson said, laughing. “Is he a pretty cool brother?”
“No,” Lynch responded.
“What?” Robinson asked incredulously.
“No,” Lynch repeated.
“That’s messed up,” a smiling Robinson said. “We went to dinner last night and everything, man.”
After Lynch was short with his answers to a few questions, Robinson moved the microphone in front of himself and began answering questions for Lynch.
“I’m going to slide up in this thing,” Robinson said with a smile, “and break up the monotony a little bit. Uhh, Marshawn ain’t going to try to say nothing to you guys, so you can direct your questions toward me.”
Robinson used the running back’s “boss” figure of speech to end each sentence.
One reporter asked how Lynch was feeling.
“He just wants to play ball, boss,” Robinson said.
Robinson was then asked how he would define “Beast Mode.”
“It’s a lifestyle, boss,” Robinson responded as Lynch, wearing headphones on top of his head, sat back in his chair smiling.
Lynch was asked if he was concerned he could be fined for not showing up at the availability, and he handled that one himself.
“I’m here, man,” Lynch said. “So, I don’t have to pay the fine, boss.”
Lynch said it was a “false” assumption that he doesn’t like talking to the media because he was once misquoted. He also said that it’s not hard balancing being a private person and a football star because the fans don’t mind how he goes about his business.
“The media has a problem with it,” Lynch said. “It’s a problem if they choose to take something away from me for not doing it.”
A reporter reminded Lynch that it’s the NFL that issues the fines.
“Well, reporters have to call it in,” Lynch said. “So, it starts somewhere, right?”
At one point, Lynch looked up at a team staffer and asked, “What’s up with that time?” A few moments later, a reporter tried to ask a question, shouting, “Hey, Marshawn!” Lynch got up, climbed over a few chairs and made his way through the crowd of reporters and disappeared through an area restricted to team personnel.
“He gets it done on game day,” Robinson said after Lynch left. “If you’re looking for somebody who’s going lead by example, all you have to do is watch him run the ball and you know what time it is.”