The right thing to do, of course, would have been to ignore Marshawn Lynch.
To stop playing his little game. To stop being the punchlines in his ongoing Duane Thomas joke.
But it was never going to happen here, not at Super Bowl media day, when costumes are optional and schtick clearly overwhelms substance.
There were the guys from TV Azteca who had two hand puppets with big teeth and bubble eyes and kept asking Bill Belichick questions in Spanish.
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There was Olympic ice skater Johnny Weir, au courant as always, double-Axeling his way for NBC through the media throng.
And there were the spectators, a few thousand of them, who paid the NFL $28.50 to sit at US Airways Center on Tuesday and watch the circus below.
When Lynch launched into his “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” routine, the crowd — listening on little radios that the NFL provided — broke into cheers.
Ignore him? It was never going to happen.
So we gathered in front of the podium that bore the Seattle running back’s name, and we poised our pens. Just in case.
“When does my time start?” Lynch asked the NFL handler who had been assigned to him.
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” he announced, setting the day’s agenda. “So you all can ask me all y’all want to. I’m going to answer with the same answer. So you all can shoot if y’all please.”
The questions varied. Lynch’s responses didn’t.
By actual count, Lynch answered, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” 29 times, even when a kid journalist shouted a kid question, and even when Deion Sanders — whose slimy insincerity was made for media day — tried to ooze in a remark.
“Does it bother you with all the attention, and they just want you to talk when you really don’t?” Deion asked.
Lynch: “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
Sanders tried again, flashing his NFL fraternity secret wink, “I pretty much know why you won’t talk. Is it because you don’t trust anyone and can misconstrue your words?”
Lynch: “Just so I won’t get fined, boss.”
Roughly five minutes into the Seahawks’ allotted hour of interviews, Lynch announced, “Time!”, stood and vacated the podium.
We had our interview.
Welcome to media day.
I will spare you the “just trying to do our job” speech if you’ll not email me with Lynch’s “right to remain silent” rights.
I get it. But do you?
His teammates reiterated Tuesday that we all should “respect his privacy.” But how private is a guy who’s been fined twice this season for publicly grabbing his crotch after scoring a touchdown?
Lynch calls his game-day transformation Beast Mode. But when the cameras and notepads are around, he goes into Bully Mode. He knows he has leverage over the interviewers, and he flaunts it with his own schtick.
He has been interviewed this season, it seems. Skittles persuaded Marshawn to sit in front of a bowl of the candy and answer a few semi-nonsensical questions. And the Progressive insurance people paid him to do a weird commercial with Kenny Mayne.
Said Lynch: “I’m all about that Flo, boss.”
So he gets the last laugh. Sponsors are handing Lynch cash to joke about his silent persona. And real-life cordial running backs, like the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray, the league’s leading rusher, didn’t make it to the Super Bowl and are just hoping someone will sign them to a rich new contract.
Lynch is a beast, no doubt. His knack for breaking games open with a pounding, tackler-shedding, fourth-quarter touchdown run has become a signature weapon for the defending champion Seahawks.
But ignore him?
Impossible to do on Tuesday. And on Super Bowl Sunday.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697