Super Bowl countdown – Wednesday

Super Bowl XLVIII

Given that the Seattle Seahawks boast the number one rushing attack in the NFL, it makes perfect sense to assume that running back Marshawn Lynch is going to take centre stage on Super Bowl Sunday.

But Lynch would rather disappear until kick off time at around 11.30pm on Sunday night. Instead, he is the talk of the town for a second successive Super Bowl for what he is not saying to the world’s media.

Lynch has made it crystal clear that he has no interest in talking to the assembled journalists in Arizona and that certainly made for an awkward Media Day on Tuesday as he responded to questions with “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” – a phrase he repeated 29 times in five minutes before excusing himself with a call for “time!”

Lynch has previous in this area. He lasted around six minutes at last year’s Media Day, climbed over a table later in that week to avoid more questions and was fined $100,000 earlier this season for not talking to journalists in Seattle.

Is it really that hard to spend a few minutes each week speaking to journalists?

Now, there could be a very reasonable explanation for Lynch’s behaviour. He could indeed have some kind of anxiety disorder similar to that suffered by Ricky Williams, who used to conduct interviews in New Orleans with his helmet on.

But members of Lynch’s own family have suggested he does not suffer from a form of anxiety and I have to admit that when I watched footage of Media Day it appeared as if the Pro Bowl rusher found the whole thing a bit of a joke.

As I have said in the past, I personally feel that players have a responsibility to speak with the media because, in doing so, they are communicating information to the fans. And it is the fans who, ultimately, part with hard-earned money to buy tickets, jerseys, TV subscriptions and much more to pay Lynch’s wages.

If Lynch were allowed to shirk his media responsibilities, other players would surely follow suit in future years and at future Super Bowls. And that would lead to a greater disconnect between players and fans.

The NFL and the Seahawks public relations guys need to be hammering this out behind the scenes in Arizona. And the Seahawks should be telling one of the toughest runners in recent NFL history to open up just a little bit more with the media.

And if he does indeed have some kind of social disorder, let’s get that confirmed, get him out of there and stop this circus that distracts from the game looming on the horizon this weekend.

As it stands right now, general manager John Schneider has admitted that he “kind of loves” Lynch’s act. And that’s all the encouragement Marshawn needs to continue his mockery of the media availability of which the NFL is so proud.

10-second takes…

  • One reason I want Lynch to open up a bit more is because I would love to know what makes him tick. He is such an emotional and inspirational leader of the Seahawks and I think NFL fans would love to know his thoughts on how he runs the football. In fact, given that Lynch rumbles rather than runs with the ball, many find him to be unique and fascinating as a player. It is a shame he cannot share his approach to the game with the football fans who so adore him.
  • Sticking with big running backs, I think NFL fans are going to enjoy watching these two run on Sunday as Lynch leads the Seahawks and LeGarrette Blount powers the New England Patriots. Watch their feet on Sunday. Both have quick feet, the ability to jump cut on a flash and tip-toe to the outside. Of course, they can also just lower the boom and destroy defenders!
  • I watched the NFC Championship Game again on my 10-hour, 5,000-mile flight from London to Phoenix and I was struck by the two massive throws Russell Wilson made in overtime – on third down to Doug Baldwin and the game-winner to Jermaine Kearse. We make a lot of Wilson moving around and needing to get outside to throw because he is 5-foot-11, but on those strikes he never left the pocket and delivered two big-time passes right on the money. I guess the kid can do it any way the game dictates, after all.
  • Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said on Tuesday that he has been tutored by the greatest head coach in NFL history in Bill Belichick. I would have to agree that Belichick is in the same class as the great Don Shula, who won a record number of games in the NFL. And the pair have a key thing in common – versatility. Belichick can spread you out and throw the football for fun one week and then run it down your throat the next. Shula was the same way – he won with a ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ power running attack in the 1970s and then went all out aerial attack in the 1980s and 1990s with Dan Marino at the helm. Versatility, scheming and coaching to the talent on your roster are traits of excellent coaches and Belichick and Shula have/had those attributes.
  • The secondaries in this game are so good that both quarterbacks – as impressive as they have been this season – might struggle on Super Bowl Sunday. There is talent across the board in these two groups of defensive backs.

Stat Attack!

  • Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has allowed opposing quarterbacks a rating of 18.1 when throwing in his direction in the playoffs during his career. That is the lowest mark allowed by any active defensive back in the NFL.
  • Seattle’s Russell Wilson led all NFL quarterbacks with 849 rushing yards this season. He recorded three 100-yard rushing days during the regular season – most in the NFL.
  • New England lost 4 games this season – 3 of those losses came against teams whose quarterbacks ranked in the top 8 as running quarterbacks in 2014 (Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Kansas City’s Alex Smith and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers).
  • Since Bill Belichick took over as New England head coach in 2000, the Patriots are 46-1 in games when they have a 100-yard rusher. Over to you, LeGarrette Blount!
  • The price of a 30-second television commercial for this year’s Super Bowl on NBC will set you back a cool $4.5 million.

They said what?

“There’s not a coach I respect more in the NFL than Pete Carroll. I’ve studied him from afar and learned from what he does. He’s made me a better coach.” – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick pays tribute to his Seattle opposite number, Pete Carroll.

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