By Sean Glendon
The Super Bowl was beautiful this year, and not just because of the game. The lead up was phenomenal, mostly because it exemplified everything wrong with the media. Super Bowl XLIX had two huge media stories: the sensationalization of Deflategate/Ballghazi and the epic duel between Marshawn Lynch and the media. After the Patriots absolutely dominated the Colts in the AFC Championship game, tests determined that 11 out of 12 footballs that New England used were underinflated: thus Deflategate was born and the media had dubbed another minute scandal after the classic Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Seriously, how lazy are reporters that whenever a story occurs, they use the formulate [blank] +gate = headline. In the recent past, we’ve had Nipplegate, Closetgate, Gamergate, Bridgegate, Bountygate, Sodaate, Spygate (also involving the Patriots) and Weinergate to name a few.
Go to the Wikipedia page ‘List of scandals with “-gate” suffix’ and see the absurdity of this. You’d think after 40 years maybe this would get old or something? Earn your fucking paycheck and report creatively, media personalities. I could understand this being a story, considering that footballs not being inflated to the correct regulated levels could have an impact on the quarterbacks, receivers and other players. However, the Patriots won by 38. With a margin of victory this extreme, the only justifiable instance of sensationalizing this story would be if Bill Belichick went to Andrew Luck’s house with a spiked baseball bat and ensured he couldn’t play… and this whole instance was caught on tape. Yes, the balls were deflated, and yes, this may have been intentional… but the Patriots won by 45, which is almost unheard of for the playoffs.
The Patriots are cheaters, probably, maybe? But until there is proof that this has been happening on a consistent basis, and was intentional, this isn’t a big deal. However, the media went absolutely crazy with this story. This was on every station, almost 24/7 leading up to the big game. With so much insanity in the world these days, is this really what should be leading the headlines? I almost understand it being a big story on ESPN, but even then it’s a bit of a stretch. But leading NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and so on? Get out of here. That was the first media issue, which is pretty straightforward negligent journalism. The second incident involved Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and his lack of desire to communicate with the media. Side note: not giving Beast Mode (possibly the best running back in the league) the ball and having Russell Wilson throw an interception will go down as one of the worst play calls in the history of professional sports.
But, back to the media and the NFL or whoever is to blame. Marshawn Lynch doesn’t like talking to the media. He blames social anxiety, but another theory is that he doesn’t enjoy being asked the same cliche questions. How many times can you answer “What do you have to do to win out there?” or “How do you think you guys did out there today?” without going insane? Either way, Marshawn Lynch has had problems in the past involving the media and not wanting to talk. He has been fined $100,000 for his refusal to talk to the media, yet that hasn’t resolved the issue. If a player is willing to forgo that amount of money to avoid talking to the press, clearly this is no small issue. Whatever the case, the NFL has a policy that forces players to speak to the media. So the week leading up to the Super Bowl was filled with the media asking Marshawn Lynch cliche questions, and him responding with whatever catchphrase he chose for the day.
Clearly, there was gridlock with both parties wasting their time and leaving frustrated. In a league full of animated characters that love the media, why force a player to speak? The Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, two very talkative but stylistically different players. Seeing this play out made it clear that the policy of forcing players to talk to the media is a policy that should be talked about in the offseason, especially since Commissioner Roger Goodell can turn down interviews as he pleases and still manage to make over $40 million per year without putting his body at risk. While the Super Bowl was one hell of a sports spectacle, it also helped to demonstrate how flawed the institutions that are the NFL and modern media can be.